A retrospective investigation was performed to evaluate whole genome sequencing as a benchmark for comparing molecular subtyping methods for Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis (SE) and survey the population structure of commonly encountered SE outbreak isolates in the United States. A total of 52 SE isolates representing 16 major outbreaks and three sporadic cases between 2001 and 2012 were sequenced and subjected to subtyping by four different methods: 1) whole genome single nucleotide polymorphism typing (WGST), 2) multiple loci VNTR (variable-number tandem repeat) analysis (MLVA), 3) clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats combined with multi-virulence-locus sequence typing (CRISPR-MVLST) and 4) pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). WGST resolved all outbreak clusters and provided useful robust phylogenetic inference with high epidemiological correlation. While both MLVA and CRISPR-MVLST yielded higher discriminatory power than PFGE, MLVA outperformed in delineating outbreak clusters whereas CRISPR-MVLST showed the potential to trace major lineages and ecological origins of SE. Our results suggested that whole genome sequencing makes a viable platform for the evaluation and benchmarking molecular subtyping methods.
For centuries, cholera has been one of the most feared diseases. The causative agent Vibrio cholerae is a waterborne Gram-negative enteric pathogen eliciting a severe watery diarrheal disease. In October 2010, the seventh pandemic reached Haiti, a country that had not experienced cholera for more than a century. By using whole-genome sequence typing and mapping strategies of 116 serotype O1 strains from global sources, including 44 Haitian genomes, we present a detailed reconstructed evolutionary history of the seventh pandemic with a focus on the Haitian outbreak. We catalogued subtle genomic alterations at the nucleotide level in the genome core and architectural rearrangements from whole-genome map comparisons. Isolates closely related to the Haitian isolates caused several recent outbreaks in southern Asia. This study provides evidence for a single-source introduction of cholera from Nepal into Haiti followed by rapid, extensive, and continued clonal expansion. The phylogeographic patterns in both southern Asia and Haiti argue for the rapid dissemination of V. cholerae across the landscape necessitating real-time surveillance efforts to complement the whole-genome epidemiological analysis. As eradication efforts move forward, phylogeographic knowledge will be important for identifying persistent sources and monitoring success at regional levels. The results of molecular and epidemiological analyses of this outbreak suggest that an indigenous Haitian source of V. cholerae is unlikely and that an indigenous source has not contributed to the genomic evolution of this clade.
Twelve Burkholderia pseudomallei isolates collected over a 32-month period from a patient with chronic melioidosis demonstrated identical multilocus sequence types (STs). However, whole-genome sequencing suggests a polyclonal infection. This study is the first to report a mixed infection with the same ST.
The Bacillus anthracis strain STI is a Soviet vaccine strain that lacks the pXO2 plasmid. Previous data indicate that this isolate forms a new branch within the B. anthracis sub-group originally identified as A. Br.008/009.
Glanders, caused by the gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia mallei, is a highly infectious zoonotic disease of solipeds causing severe disease in animals and men. Although eradicated from many Western countries, it recently emerged in Asia, the Middle-East, Africa, and South America. Due to its rareness, little is known about outbreak dynamics of the disease and its epidemiology.
We used real-time polymerase chain reaction and culture to demonstrate persistent colonization of soils by Coccidioides immitis, an agent of valley fever, in Washington State linked to recent human infections and located outside the endemic range. Whole-genome sequencing confirmed genetic identity between isolates from soil and one of the case-patients.
The bacterium Francisella tularensis is recognized for its virulence, infectivity, genetic homogeneity, and potential as a bioterrorism agent. Outbreaks of respiratory tularemia, caused by inhalation of this bacterium, are poorly understood. Such outbreaks are exceedingly rare, and F. tularensis is seldom recovered from clinical specimens.
The emergence of distinct populations of Cryptococcus gattii in the temperate North American Pacific Northwest (PNW) was surprising, as this species was previously thought to be confined to tropical and semitropical regions. Beyond a new habitat niche, the dominant emergent population displayed increased virulence and caused primary pulmonary disease, as opposed to the predominantly neurologic disease seen previously elsewhere. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on 118 C. gattii isolates, including the PNW subtypes and the global diversity of molecular type VGII, to better ascertain the natural source and genomic adaptations leading to the emergence of infection in the PNW. Overall, the VGII population was highly diverse, demonstrating large numbers of mutational and recombinational events; however, the three dominant subtypes from the PNW were of low diversity and were completely clonal. Although strains of VGII were found on at least five continents, all genetic subpopulations were represented or were most closely related to strains from South America. The phylogenetic data are consistent with multiple dispersal events from South America to North America and elsewhere. Numerous gene content differences were identified between the emergent clones and other VGII lineages, including genes potentially related to habitat adaptation, virulence, and pathology. Evidence was also found for possible gene introgression from Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii that is rarely seen in global C. gattii but that was present in all PNW populations. These findings provide greater understanding of C. gattii evolution in North America and support extensive evolution in, and dispersal from, South America. Importance: Cryptococcus gattii emerged in the temperate North American Pacific Northwest (PNW) in the late 1990s. Beyond a new environmental niche, these emergent populations displayed increased virulence and resulted in a different pattern of clinical disease. In particular, severe pulmonary infections predominated in contrast to presentation with neurologic disease as seen previously elsewhere. We employed population-level whole-genome sequencing and analysis to explore the genetic relationships and gene content of the PNW C. gattii populations. We provide evidence that the PNW strains originated from South America and identified numerous genes potentially related to habitat adaptation, virulence expression, and clinical presentation. Characterization of these genetic features may lead to improved diagnostics and therapies for such fungal infections. The data indicate that there were multiple recent introductions of C. gattii into the PNW. Public health vigilance is warranted for emergence in regions where C. gattii is not thought to be endemic.
We analyzed 10 isolates of Francisella tularensis subspecies holarctica from China and assigned them to known clades by using canonical single-nucleotide polymorphisms. We found 4 diverse subtypes, including 3 from the most basal lineage, biovar japonica. This result indicates unprecedented levels of diversity from a single region and suggests new models for emergence.
Exserohilum rostratum was the cause of most cases of fungal meningitis and other infections associated with the injection of contaminated methylprednisolone acetate produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Until this outbreak, very few human cases of Exserohilum infection had been reported, and very little was known about this dematiaceous fungus, which usually infects plants. Here, we report using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) for the detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and phylogenetic analysis to investigate the molecular origin of the outbreak using 22 isolates of E. rostratum retrieved from 19 case patients with meningitis or epidural/spinal abscesses, 6 isolates from contaminated NECC vials, and 7 isolates unrelated to the outbreak. Our analysis indicates that all 28 isolates associated with the outbreak had nearly identical genomes of 33.8 Mb. A total of 8 SNPs were detected among the outbreak genomes, with no more than 2 SNPs separating any 2 of the 28 genomes. The outbreak genomes were separated from the next most closely related control strain by ?136,000 SNPs. We also observed significant genomic variability among strains unrelated to the outbreak, which may suggest the possibility of cryptic speciation in E. rostratum.
Cryptococcus gattii has been the cause of an ongoing outbreak starting in 1999 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and spreading to mainland Canada and the US Pacific Northwest. In the course of the outbreak, C. gattii has been identified outside of its previously documented climate, habitat, and host disease. Genotyping of C. gattii is essential to understand the ecological and geographical expansion of this emerging pathogen.
We used whole-genome analysis and subsequent characterization of geographically diverse strains using new genetic signatures to identify distinct subgroups within Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis group A.I: A.I.3, A.I.8, and A.I.12. These subgroups exhibit complex phylogeographic patterns within North America. The widest distribution was observed for A.I.12, which suggests an adaptive advantage.
Native soil carbon (C) can be lost in response to fresh C inputs, a phenomenon observed for decades yet still not understood. Using dual-stable isotope probing, we show that changes in the diversity and composition of two functional bacterial groups occur with this 'priming' effect. A single-substrate pulse suppressed native soil C loss and reduced bacterial diversity, whereas repeated substrate pulses stimulated native soil C loss and increased diversity. Increased diversity after repeated C amendments contrasts with resource competition theory, and may be explained by increased predation as evidenced by a decrease in bacterial 16S rRNA gene copies. Our results suggest that biodiversity and composition of the soil microbial community change in concert with its functioning, with consequences for native soil C stability.
Coxiella burnetii causes Q fever in humans and Coxiellosis in animals; symptoms range from general malaise to fever, pneumonia, endocarditis and death. Livestock are a significant source of human infection as they shed C. burnetii cells in birth tissues, milk, urine and feces. Although prevalence of C. burnetii is high, few Q fever cases are reported in the U.S. and we have a limited understanding of their connectedness due to difficulties in genotyping. Here, we develop canonical SNP genotyping assays to evaluate spatial and temporal relationships among C. burnetii environmental samples and compare them across studies. Given the genotypic diversity of historical collections, we hypothesized that the current enzootic of Coxiellosis is caused by multiple circulating genotypes. We collected A) 23 milk samples from a single bovine herd, B) 134 commercial bovine and caprine milk samples from across the U.S., and C) 400 bovine and caprine samples from six milk processing plants over three years.
Burkholderia oklahomensis E0147 is a US isolated bacterium believed to express a similar O-antigen to type A structure of the highly pathogenic species, Burkholderia pseudomallei. Both species are genetically closely related. Lipopolysaccharide was collected from E0147 and structurally characterized to test this hypothesis. Glycosyl composition and linkage analyses in conjunction with 1D and 2D (1)H and (13)C NMR spectroscopy showed that the O-antigen was a repeating disaccharide with the following structure: [3)-?-D-Glcp-(1?3)-2OAc-?-L-6dTalp-(1?]n NMR spectroscopy also revealed the presence of a co-extracted exopolysaccharide previously described in B. pseudomallei, with the structure: [3)-2OAc-?-D-Galp-(1?4)-?-D-Galp-(1?3)-?-D-Galp-(1?5)-?-D-Kdop-(2?]n.
Yersinia pestis has caused at least three human plague pandemics. The second (Black Death, 14-17th centuries) and third (19-20th centuries) have been genetically characterised, but there is only a limited understanding of the first pandemic, the Plague of Justinian (6-8th centuries). To address this gap, we sequenced and analysed draft genomes of Y pestis obtained from two individuals who died in the first pandemic.
Information about the genotypic characteristic of Coxiella burnetii from Hungary is lacking. The aim of this study is to describe the genetic diversity of C. burnetii in Hungary and compare genotypes with those found elsewhere. A total of 12 samples: (cattle, n?=?6, sheep, n?=?5 and human, n?=?1) collected from across Hungary were studied by a 10-loci multispacer sequence typing (MST) and 6-loci multiple-locus variable-number of tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). Phylogenetic relationships among MST genotypes show how these Hungarian samples are related to others collected around the world.
Tularaemia, caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, is endemic in Sweden and is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of three different genetic typing systems to link a genetic type to the source and place of tularemia infection in Sweden. Canonical single nucleotide polymorphisms (canSNPs), MLVA including five variable number of tandem repeat loci and PmeI-PFGE were tested on 127 F. tularensis positive specimens collected from Swedish case-patients. All three typing methods identified two major genetic groups with near-perfect agreement. Higher genetic resolution was obtained with canSNP and MLVA compared to PFGE; F. tularensis samples were first assigned into ten phylogroups based on canSNPs followed by 33 unique MLVA types. Phylogroups were geographically analysed to reveal complex phylogeographic patterns in Sweden. The extensive phylogenetic diversity found within individual counties posed a challenge to linking specific genetic types with specific geographic locations. Despite this, a single phylogroup (B.22), defined by a SNP marker specific to a lone Swedish sequenced strain, did link genetic type with a likely geographic place. This result suggests that SNP markers, highly specific to a particular reference genome, may be found most frequently among samples recovered from the same location where the reference genome originated. This insight compels us to consider whole-genome sequencing (WGS) as the appropriate tool for effectively linking specific genetic type to geography. Comparing the WGS of an unknown sample to WGS databases of archived Swedish strains maximizes the likelihood of revealing those rare geographically informative SNPs.
With the decreasing cost of next-generation sequencing, deep sequencing of clinical samples provides unique opportunities to understand host-associated microbial communities. Among the primary challenges of clinical metagenomic sequencing is the rapid filtering of human reads to survey for pathogens with high specificity and sensitivity. Metagenomes are inherently variable due to different microbes in the samples and their relative abundance, the size and architecture of genomes, and factors such as target DNA amounts in tissue samples (i.e. human DNA versus pathogen DNA concentration). This variation in metagenomes typically manifests in sequencing datasets as low pathogen abundance, a high number of host reads, and the presence of close relatives and complex microbial communities. In addition to these challenges posed by the composition of metagenomes, high numbers of reads generated from high-throughput deep sequencing pose immense computational challenges. Accurate identification of pathogens is confounded by individual reads mapping to multiple different reference genomes due to gene similarity in different taxa present in the community or close relatives in the reference database. Available global and local sequence aligners also vary in sensitivity, specificity, and speed of detection. The efficiency of detection of pathogens in clinical samples is largely dependent on the desired taxonomic resolution of the organisms. We have developed an efficient strategy that identifies "all against all" relationships between sequencing reads and reference genomes. Our approach allows for scaling to large reference databases and then genome reconstruction by aggregating global and local alignments, thus allowing genetic characterization of pathogens at higher taxonomic resolution. These results were consistent with strain level SNP genotyping and bacterial identification from laboratory culture.
Francisella tularensis, the etiologic agent of tularemia and a Class A Select Agent, is divided into three subspecies and multiple subpopulations that differ in virulence and geographic distribution. Given these differences, there is a need to rapidly and accurately determine if a strain is F. tularensis and, if it is, assign it to subspecies and subpopulation. We designed TaqMan real-time PCR genotyping assays using eleven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were potentially specific to closely related groups within the genus Francisella, including numerous subpopulations within F. tularensis species. We performed extensive validation studies to test the specificity of these SNPs to particular populations by screening the assays across a set of 565 genetically and geographically diverse F. tularensis isolates and an additional 21 genetic near-neighbor (outgroup) isolates. All eleven assays correctly determined the genetic groups of all 565 F. tularensis isolates. One assay differentiates F. tularensis, F. novicida, and F. hispaniensis from the more genetically distant F. philomiragia and Francisella-like endosymbionts. Another assay differentiates F. tularensis isolates from near neighbors. The remaining nine assays classify F. tularensis-confirmed isolates into F. tularensis subspecies and subpopulations. The genotyping accuracy of these nine assays diminished when tested on outgroup isolates (i.e. non F. tularensis), therefore a hierarchical approach of assay usage is recommended wherein the F. tularensis-specific assay is used before the nine downstream assays. Among F. tularensis isolates, all eleven assays were highly sensitive, consistently amplifying very low concentrations of DNA. Altogether, these eleven TaqMan real-time PCR assays represent a highly accurate, rapid, and sensitive means of identifying the species, subspecies, and subpopulation of any F. tularensis isolate if used in a step-wise hierarchical scheme. These assays would be very useful in clinical, epidemiological, and/or forensic investigations involving F. tularensis.
Sequence analyses and subtyping of Bacillus anthracis strains from Georgia reveal a single distinct lineage (Aust94) that is ecologically established. Phylogeographic analysis and comparisons to a global collection reveals a clade that is mostly restricted to Georgia. Within this clade, many groups are found around the country, however at least one subclade is only found in the eastern part. This pattern suggests that dispersal into and out of Georgia has been rare and despite historical dispersion within the country, for at least for one lineage, current spread is limited.
Background. As whole genome sequence data from bacterial isolates becomes cheaper to generate, computational methods are needed to correlate sequence data with biological observations. Here we present the large-scale BLAST score ratio (LS-BSR) pipeline, which rapidly compares the genetic content of hundreds to thousands of bacterial genomes, and returns a matrix that describes the relatedness of all coding sequences (CDSs) in all genomes surveyed. This matrix can be easily parsed in order to identify genetic relationships between bacterial genomes. Although pipelines have been published that group peptides by sequence similarity, no other software performs the rapid, large-scale, full-genome comparative analyses carried out by LS-BSR. Results. To demonstrate the utility of the method, the LS-BSR pipeline was tested on 96 Escherichia coli and Shigella genomes; the pipeline ran in 163 min using 16 processors, which is a greater than 7-fold speedup compared to using a single processor. The BSR values for each CDS, which indicate a relative level of relatedness, were then mapped to each genome on an independent core genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) based phylogeny. Comparisons were then used to identify clade specific CDS markers and validate the LS-BSR pipeline based on molecular markers that delineate between classical E. coli pathogenic variant (pathovar) designations. Scalability tests demonstrated that the LS-BSR pipeline can process 1,000 E. coli genomes in 27-57 h, depending upon the alignment method, using 16 processors. Conclusions. LS-BSR is an open-source, parallel implementation of the BSR algorithm, enabling rapid comparison of the genetic content of large numbers of genomes. The results of the pipeline can be used to identify specific markers between user-defined phylogenetic groups, and to identify the loss and/or acquisition of genetic information between bacterial isolates. Taxa-specific genetic markers can then be translated into clinical diagnostics, or can be used to identify broadly conserved putative therapeutic candidates.
White-Nose Syndrome is a fungal disease that has decimated bat populations across eastern North America. Identification of the etiologic agent, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (formerly Geomyces destructans), in environmental samples is essential to proposed management plans. A major challenge is the presence of closely related species, which are ubiquitous in many soils and cave sediments and often present in high abundance. We present a dual probe Real-Time quantitative PCR assay capable of detecting and differentiating P. destructans from closely related fungi in environmental samples from North America. The assay, based on a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) specific to P. destructans, is capable of rapid low level detection from various sampling media including sediment, fecal samples, wing biopsies, and skin swabs. This method is a highly sensitive, high-throughput method for identifying P. destructans, Pseudogymnoascus spp., and Geomyces spp. in the environment, providing a fundamental component of research and risk assessment for addressing this disease, as well as other ecological and mycological work on related fungi.
ABSTRACT The Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131) clone is notorious for extraintestinal infections, fluoroquinolone resistance, and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) production, attributable to a CTX-M-15-encoding mobile element. Here, we applied pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole-genome sequencing to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the ST131 clone. PFGE-based cluster analyses suggested that both fluoroquinolone resistance and ESBL production had been acquired by multiple ST131 sublineages through independent genetic events. In contrast, the more robust whole-genome-sequence-based phylogenomic analysis revealed that fluoroquinolone resistance was confined almost entirely to a single, rapidly expanding ST131 subclone, designated H30-R. Strikingly, 91% of the CTX-M-15-producing isolates also belonged to a single, well-defined clade nested within H30-R, which was named H30-Rx due to its more extensive resistance. Despite its tight clonal relationship with H30Rx, the CTX-M-15 mobile element was inserted variably in plasmid and chromosomal locations within the H30-Rx genome. Screening of a large collection of recent clinical E. coli isolates both confirmed the global clonal expansion of H30-Rx and revealed its disproportionate association with sepsis (relative risk, 7.5; P < 0.001). Together, these results suggest that the high prevalence of CTX-M-15 production among ST131 isolates is due primarily to the expansion of a single, highly virulent subclone, H30-Rx. IMPORTANCE We applied an advanced genomic approach to study the recent evolutionary history of one of the most important Escherichia coli strains in circulation today. This strain, called sequence type 131 (ST131), causes multidrug-resistant bladder, kidney, and bloodstream infections around the world. The rising prevalence of antibiotic resistance in E. coli is making these infections more difficult to treat and is leading to increased mortality. Past studies suggested that many different ST131 strains gained resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins independently. In contrast, our research indicates that most extended-spectrum-cephalosporin-resistant ST131 strains belong to a single highly pathogenic subclone, called H30-Rx. The clonal nature of H30-Rx may provide opportunities for vaccine or transmission prevention-based control strategies, which could gain importance as H30-Rx and other extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli subclones become resistant to our best antibiotics.
Brucella species include important zoonotic pathogens that have a substantial impact on both agriculture and human health throughout the world. Brucella are thought of as stealth pathogens that escape recognition by the host innate immune response, modulate the acquired immune response and evade intracellular destruction. We analyzed the genome sequences of members of the family Brucellaceae to assess its evolutionary history from likely free-living soil based progenitors into highly successful intracellular pathogens. Phylogenetic analysis split the genus into two groups: recently identified and early dividing atypical strains, and a highly conserved classical core clade containing the major pathogenic species. Lateral gene transfer events brought unique genomic regions into Brucella that differentiated them from Ochrobactrum and allowed the stepwise acquisition of virulence factors that include a type IV secretion system, a perosamine-based O-antigen and systems for sequestering metal ions absent in progenitors. Subsequent radiation within the core Brucella resulted in lineages that appear to have evolved within their preferred mammalian hosts, restricting their virulence to become stealth pathogens capable of causing long-term chronic infections.
We report the complete genome sequence, including five complete plasmid sequences, of Escherichia coli ST131 isolate JJ1886. The isolate was obtained in 2007 in the United States from a patient with fatal urosepsis and belongs to the virulent, CTX-M-15-producing H30-Rx sublineage.
Melioidosis is a potentially fatal disease caused by the saprophytic bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Resistance to gentamicin is generally a hallmark of B. pseudomallei, and gentamicin is a selective agent in media used for diagnosis of melioidosis. In this study, we determined the prevalence and mechanism of gentamicin susceptibility found in B. pseudomallei isolates from Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. We performed multilocus sequence typing and antibiotic susceptibility testing on 44 B. pseudomallei clinical isolates from melioidosis patients in Sarawak district hospitals. Whole-genome sequencing was used to identify the mechanism of gentamicin susceptibility. A novel allelic-specific PCR was designed to differentiate gentamicin-sensitive isolates from wild-type B. pseudomallei. A reversion assay was performed to confirm the involvement of this mechanism in gentamicin susceptibility. A substantial proportion (86%) of B. pseudomallei clinical isolates in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, were found to be susceptible to the aminoglycoside gentamicin, a rare occurrence in other regions where B. pseudomallei is endemic. Gentamicin sensitivity was restricted to genetically related strains belonging to sequence type 881 or its single-locus variant, sequence type 997. Whole-genome sequencing identified a novel nonsynonymous mutation within amrB, encoding an essential component of the AmrAB-OprA multidrug efflux pump. We confirmed the role of this mutation in conferring aminoglycoside and macrolide sensitivity by reversion of this mutation to the wild-type sequence. Our study demonstrates that alternative B. pseudomallei selective media without gentamicin are needed for accurate melioidosis laboratory diagnosis in Sarawak. This finding may also have implications for environmental sampling of other locations to test for B. pseudomallei endemicity.
We describe the complete genome sequence of Burkholderia pseudomallei MSHR305, a clinical isolate taken from a fatal encephalomyelitis case, a rare form of melioidosis. This sequence will be used for comparisons to identify the genes that are involved in neurological cases.
The Staphylococcus aureus clonal lineage CC45 is a predominant colonizer of healthy individuals in northern Europe and constitutes a highly basal cluster of the S. aureus population. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of S. aureus strain CA-347 (NRS648), a representative of the methicillin-resistant USA600 clone predominantly found in the United States.
Burkholderia pseudomallei causes the potentially fatal disease melioidosis. It is generally accepted that B. pseudomallei is a noncommensal bacterium and that any culture-positive clinical specimen denotes disease requiring treatment. Over a 23-year study of melioidosis cases in Darwin, Australia, just one patient from 707 survivors has developed persistent asymptomatic B. pseudomallei carriage. To better understand the mechanisms behind this unique scenario, we performed whole-genome analysis of two strains isolated 139 months apart. During this period, B. pseudomallei underwent several adaptive changes. Of 23 point mutations, 78% were nonsynonymous and 43% were predicted to be deleterious to gene function, demonstrating a strong propensity for positive selection. Notably, a nonsense mutation inactivated the universal stress response sigma factor RpoS, with pleiotropic implications. The genome underwent substantial reduction, with four deletions in chromosome 2 resulting in the loss of 221 genes. The deleted loci included genes involved in secondary metabolism, environmental survival, and pathogenesis. Of 14 indels, 11 occurred in coding regions and 9 resulted in frameshift mutations that dramatically affected predicted gene products. Disproportionately, four indels affected lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis and modification. Finally, we identified a frameshift mutation in both P314 isolates within wcbR, an important component of the capsular polysaccharide I locus, suggesting virulence attenuation early in infection. Our study illustrates a unique clinical case that contrasts a high-consequence infectious agent with a long-term commensal infection and provides further insights into bacterial evolution within the human host.
Acinetobacter spp. are a diverse group of Gram-negative bacteria frequently implicated in nosocomial infections. Genotypic methods have been instrumental in studying Acinetobacter, but few offer high resolution, rapid turnaround time, technical ease and high inter-laboratory reproducibility, which has hampered understanding of disease incidence, transmission patterns and diversity within this genus. Here, we further evaluated multilocus PCR electrospray ionization/mass spectrometry (PCR/ESI-MS), a method that is simple and robust, and provides both species characterization and strain-level resolution of Acinetobacter spp. on a single platform. We examined 125 Acinetobacter isolates from 21 hospitals, laboratories and medical centres spanning four counties in Arizona, USA, using PCR/ESI-MS. We compared PCR/ESI-MS with an in-house amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) genotyping scheme. PCR/ESI-MS demonstrated that Acinetobacter spp. from Arizonan hospitals had similar species and strain distributions to other US civilian hospitals. Furthermore, we showed that the PCR/ESI-MS and AFLP genotypes were highly congruent, with the former having the advantages of robust inter-laboratory reproducibility, rapid turnaround time and simple experimental set-up and data analysis. PCR/ESI-MS is an effective and high-throughput platform for strain typing of Acinetobacter baumannii and for identification of other Acinetobacter spp., including the emerging nosocomial pathogens Acinetobacter pittii and Acinetobacter nosocomialis.
Rooting phylogenies is critical for understanding evolution, yet the importance, intricacies and difficulties of rooting are often overlooked. For rooting, polymorphic characters among the group of interest (ingroup) must be compared to those of a relative (outgroup) that diverged before the last common ancestor (LCA) of the ingroup. Problems arise if an outgroup does not exist, is unknown, or is so distant that few characters are shared, in which case duplicated genes originating before the LCA can be used as proxy outgroups to root diverse phylogenies. Here, we describe a genome-wide expansion of this technique that can be used to solve problems at the other end of the evolutionary scale: where ingroup individuals are all very closely related to each other, but the next closest relative is very distant. We used shared orthologous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 10 whole genome sequences of Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever in humans, to create a robust, but unrooted phylogeny. To maximize the number of characters informative about the rooting, we searched entire genomes for polymorphic duplicated regions where orthologs of each paralog could be identified so that the paralogs could be used to root the tree. Recent radiations, such as those of emerging pathogens, often pose rooting challenges due to a lack of ingroup variation and large genomic differences with known outgroups. Using a phylogenomic approach, we created a robust, rooted phylogeny for C. burnetii. [Coxiella burnetii; paralog SNPs; pathogen evolution; phylogeny; recent radiation; root; rooting using duplicated genes.].
Here, we describe the draft genome sequence of Burkholderia pseudomallei NCTC 13392. This isolate has been distributed as K96243, but distinct genomic differences have been identified. The genomic sequence of this isolate will provide the genomic context for previously conducted functional studies.
Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of the disease plague, has been implicated in three historical pandemics. These include the third pandemic of the 19(th) and 20(th) centuries, during which plague was spread around the world, and the second pandemic of the 14(th)-17(th) centuries, which included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death. Previous studies have confirmed that Y. pestis caused these two more recent pandemics. However, a highly spirited debate still continues as to whether Y. pestis caused the so-called Justinianic Plague of the 6(th)-8(th) centuries AD. By analyzing ancient DNA in two independent ancient DNA laboratories, we confirmed unambiguously the presence of Y. pestis DNA in human skeletal remains from an Early Medieval cemetery. In addition, we narrowed the phylogenetic position of the responsible strain down to major branch 0 on the Y. pestis phylogeny, specifically between nodes N03 and N05. Our findings confirm that Y. pestis was responsible for the Justinianic Plague, which should end the controversy regarding the etiology of this pandemic. The first genotype of a Y. pestis strain that caused the Late Antique plague provides important information about the history of the plague bacillus and suggests that the first pandemic also originated in Asia, similar to the other two plague pandemics.
Bacillus anthracis strains previously isolated from Bulgaria form a unique subcluster within the A1.a cluster that is typical for isolates from southeastern Europe. Here, we report the draft genome sequences of two Bulgarian B. anthracis strains belonging to the A branch (A.Br.)008/009 canonical single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) group of the major A branch.
Male circumcision reduces female-to-male HIV transmission. Hypothesized mechanisms for this protective effect include decreased HIV target cell recruitment and activation due to changes in the penis microbiome. We compared the coronal sulcus microbiota of men from a group of uncircumcised controls (n = 77) and from a circumcised intervention group (n = 79) at enrollment and year 1 follow-up in a randomized circumcision trial in Rakai, Uganda. We characterized microbiota using16S rRNA gene-based quantitative PCR (qPCR) and pyrosequencing, log response ratio (LRR), Bayesian classification, nonmetric multidimensional scaling (nMDS), and permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PerMANOVA). At baseline, men in both study arms had comparable coronal sulcus microbiota; however, by year 1, circumcision decreased the total bacterial load and reduced microbiota biodiversity. Specifically, the prevalence and absolute abundance of 12 anaerobic bacterial taxa decreased significantly in the circumcised men. While aerobic bacterial taxa also increased postcircumcision, these gains were minor. The reduction in anaerobes may partly account for the effects of circumcision on reduced HIV acquisition.
Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a highly prevalent and heterogeneous condition frequently treated with antibiotics and corticosteroid therapy. However, the effect of medical therapy on sinus microbiota remains unknown.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 is frequently isolated from cases of diarrhea in many industrialized countries; however, it is seldom found in developing countries. The present manuscript reports the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in Ecuadorian livestock, a country where enterohemorrhagic E. coli disease in humans has never been reported. The Ecuadorian isolates were genetically related to some strains linked to clinical cases in the United States as assessed by multiple-locus variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis.
Brucellosis is a common infection of feral swine throughout the United States. With the recent expansion of feral swine populations across the country, this disease poses an increasing threat to agriculture and hunters. The standard approach to Brucella surveillance in feral swine has been serological testing, which gives an indication of past exposure and is a rapid method of determining populations where Brucella is present. More in-depth analyses require bacterial isolation to determine the Brucella species and biovar involved. Ultimately, for a comprehensive understanding of Brucella epizootiology in feral swine, incorporation of genotyping assays has become essential. Fortunately, the past decade has given rise to an array of genetic tools for assessing Brucella transmission and dispersal. This review aims to synthesize what is known about brucellosis in feral swine and will cover prospective genomic techniques that may be utilized to develop more complete understanding of the disease and its transmission history.
A cluster of human plague cases occurred in the seaport city of Mahajanga, Madagascar, from 1991 to 1999 following 62 years with no evidence of plague, which offered insights into plague pathogen dynamics in an urban environment. We analyzed a set of 44 Mahajanga isolates from this 9-year outbreak, as well as an additional 218 Malagasy isolates from the highland foci. We sequenced the genomes of four Mahajanga strains, performed whole-genome sequence single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery on those strains, screened the discovered SNPs, and performed a high-resolution 43-locus multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis of the isolate panel. Twenty-two new SNPs were identified and defined a new phylogenetic lineage among the Malagasy isolates. Phylogeographic analysis suggests that the Mahajanga lineage likely originated in the Ambositra district in the highlands, spread throughout the northern central highlands, and was then introduced into and became transiently established in Mahajanga. Although multiple transfers between the central highlands and Mahajanga occurred, there was a locally differentiating and dominant subpopulation that was primarily responsible for the 1991-to-1999 Mahajanga outbreaks. Phylotemporal analysis of this Mahajanga subpopulation revealed a cycling pattern of diversity generation and loss that occurred during and after each outbreak. This pattern is consistent with severe interseasonal genetic bottlenecks along with large seasonal population expansions. The ultimate extinction of plague pathogens in Mahajanga suggests that, in this environment, the plague pathogen niche is tenuous at best. However, the temporary large pathogen population expansion provides the means for plague pathogens to disperse and become ecologically established in more suitable nonurban environments.
Acinetobacter baumannii is an emergent and global nosocomial pathogen. In addition to A. baumannii, other Acinetobacter species, especially those in the Acinetobacter calcoaceticus-baumannii (Acb) complex, have also been associated with serious human infection. Although mechanisms of attachment, persistence on abiotic surfaces, and pathogenesis in A. baumannii have been identified, the genetic mechanisms that explain the emergence of A. baumannii as the most widespread and virulent Acinetobacter species are not fully understood. Recent whole genome sequencing has provided insight into the phylogenetic structure of the genus Acinetobacter. However, a global comparison of genomic features between Acinetobacter spp. has not been described in the literature. In this study, 136 Acinetobacter genomes, including 67 sequenced in this study, were compared to identify the acquisition and loss of genes in the expansion of the Acinetobacter genus. A whole genome phylogeny confirmed that A. baumannii is a monophyletic clade and that the larger Acb complex is also a well-supported monophyletic group. The whole genome phylogeny provided the framework for a global genomic comparison based on a blast score ratio (BSR) analysis. The BSR analysis demonstrated that specific genes have been both lost and acquired in the evolution of A. baumannii. In addition, several genes associated with A. baumannii pathogenesis were found to be more conserved in the Acb complex, and especially in A. baumannii, than in other Acinetobacter genomes; until recently, a global analysis of the distribution and conservation of virulence factors across the genus was not possible. The results demonstrate that the acquisition of specific virulence factors has likely contributed to the widespread persistence and virulence of A. baumannii. The identification of novel features associated with transcriptional regulation and acquired by clades in the Acb complex presents targets for better understanding the evolution of pathogenesis and virulence in the expansion of the genus.
Little is currently known about Brucella evolution within the host during infection. The current study is the first to employ fine-scale genotyping on an isolate collection derived from a Brucella canis outbreak. Eight isolates of B. canis, cultured from different tissues of three dogs (female, stud dog, puppy of another female) from a single kennel over three months were genetically characterized with a 15-marker multi-locus, variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) to assess the genetic relatedness of isolates and potential rapid mutational changes.
spa typing is a common genotyping tool for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Europe. Given the high prevalence of dominant clones, spa-typing is proving to be limited in its ability to distinguish outbreak isolates from background isolates. New molecular tools need to be employed to improve subtyping of dominant local MRSA strains (e.g., spa type t003).
Burkholderia ubonensis is an environmental bacterium belonging to the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc), a group of genetically related organisms that are associated with opportunistic but generally nonfatal infections in healthy individuals. In contrast, the near-neighbour species Burkholderia pseudomallei causes melioidosis, a disease that can be fatal in up to 95% of cases if left untreated. B. ubonensis is frequently misidentified as B. pseudomallei from soil samples using selective culturing on Ashdowns medium, reflecting both the shared environmental niche and morphological similarities of these species. Additionally, B. ubonensis shows potential as an important biocontrol agent in B. pseudomallei-endemic regions as certain strains possess antagonistic properties towards B. pseudomallei. Current methods for characterising B. ubonensis are laborious, time-consuming and costly, and as such this bacterium remains poorly studied. The aim of our study was to develop a rapid and inexpensive real-time PCR-based assay specific for B. ubonensis. We demonstrate that a novel B. ubonensis-specific assay, Bu550, accurately differentiates B. ubonensis from B. pseudomallei and other species that grow on selective Ashdowns agar. We anticipate that Bu550 will catalyse research on B. ubonensis by enabling rapid identification of this organism from Ashdowns-positive colonies that are not B. pseudomallei.
Melioidosis is an emerging infectious disease of humans and animals in the tropics caused by the soil bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Despite high fatality rates, the ecology of B.pseudomallei remains unclear. We used a combination of field and laboratory studies to investigate B.pseudomallei colonization of native and exotic grasses in northern Australia. Multivariable and spatial analyses were performed to determine significant predictors for B.pseudomallei occurrence in plants and soil collected longitudinally from field sites. In plant inoculation experiments, the impact of B.pseudomallei upon these grasses was studied and the bacterial load semi-quantified. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and confocal laser scanning microscopy were performed to localize the bacteria in plants. Burkholderia pseudomallei was found to inhabit not only the rhizosphere and roots but also aerial parts of specific grasses. This raises questions about the potential spread of B.pseudomallei by grazing animals whose droppings were found to be positive for these bacteria. In particular, B.pseudomallei readily colonized exotic grasses introduced to Australia for pasture. The ongoing spread of these introduced grasses creates new habitats suitable for B.pseudomallei survival and may be an important factor in the evolving epidemiology of melioidosis seen both in northern Australia and elsewhere globally.
Over the past 40 yr, epizootics of plague (Yersinia pestis) in northern Arizona have reduced populations of the Gunnisons prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni), with the exception of a large population found in the Aubrey Valley (AV). To examine potential mechanisms accounting for their survival, we collected prairie dog serum samples in 2005-2006 from AV and a neighboring population near Seligman (SE), Arizona. We quantified gene expression at 58 diverse immune proteins using a multiplexed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay panel. We found a subset of proteins important in coagulation and inflammation (tissue factor [TF], calbindin [Cal], and thrombopoietin [TPO]) and T-cell responses (CD40L and CD40) that were present in AV at levels two to eight times greater than SE. These results suggest that AV and SE animals might differ in their ability to mount an immune response.
Optimising DNA extraction from clinical samples for Burkholderia pseudomallei Type III secretion system real-time PCR in suspected melioidosis patients confirmed that urine and sputum are useful diagnostic samples. Direct testing on blood remains problematic; testing DNA extracted from plasma was superior to DNA from whole blood or buffy coat.
Tularemia is a serious, potentially life threatening zoonotic disease. The causative agent, Francisella tularensis, is ubiquitous in the Northern hemisphere, including Alaska, where it was first isolated from a rabbit tick (Haemophysalis leporis-palustris) in 1938. Since then, F. tularensis has been isolated from wildlife and humans throughout the state. Serologic surveys have found measurable antibodies with prevalence ranging from < 1% to 50% and 4% to 18% for selected populations of wildlife species and humans, respectively. We reviewed and summarized known literature on tularemia surveillance in Alaska and summarized the epidemiological information on human cases reported to public health officials. Additionally, available F. tularensis isolates from Alaska were analyzed using canonical SNPs and a multi-locus variable-number tandem repeats (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) system. The results show that both F. t. tularensis and F. t. holarctica are present in Alaska and that subtype A.I, the most virulent type, is responsible for most recently reported human clinical cases in the state.
Widespread resistance among circulating influenza A strains to at least one of the anti-influenza drugs is a major public health concern. A triple combination antiviral drug (TCAD) regimen comprised of amantadine, oseltamivir, and ribavirin has been shown to have synergistic and broad spectrum activity against influenza A strains, including drug resistant strains. Here, we used mathematical modeling along with three different experimental approaches to understand the effects of single agents, double combinations, and the TCAD regimen on resistance in influenza in vitro, including: 1) serial passage at constant drug concentrations, 2) serial passage at escalating drug concentrations, and 3) evaluation of the contribution of each component of the TCAD regimen to the suppression of resistance. Consistent with the modeling which demonstrated that three drugs were required to suppress the emergence of resistance in influenza A, treatment with the TCAD regimen resulted in the sustained suppression of drug resistant viruses, whereas treatment with amantadine alone or the amantadine-oseltamivir double combination led to the rapid selection of resistant variants which comprised ?100% of the population. Furthermore, the TCAD regimen imposed a high genetic barrier to resistance, requiring multiple mutations in order to escape the effects of all the drugs in the regimen. Finally, we demonstrate that each drug in the TCAD regimen made a significant contribution to the suppression of virus breakthrough and resistance at clinically achievable concentrations. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the TCAD regimen was superior to double combinations and single agents at suppressing resistance, and that three drugs at a minimum were required to impede the selection of drug resistant variants in influenza A virus. The use of mathematical modeling with multiple experimental designs and molecular readouts to evaluate and optimize combination drug regimens for the suppression of resistance may be broadly applicable to other infectious diseases.
Cyclopropavir (CPV) is active against human cytomegalovirus (CMV), as well as both variants of human herpesvirus 6 and human herpesvirus 8. The mechanism of action of CPV against CMV is similar to that of ganciclovir (GCV) in that it is phosphorylated initially by the CMV UL97 kinase, resulting in inhibition of viral DNA synthesis. Resistance to CPV maps to the UL97 kinase but is associated primarily with H520Q mutations and thus retains good antiviral activity against most GCV-resistant isolates. An examination of CMV-infected cultures treated with CPV revealed unusual cell morphology typically associated with the absence of UL97 kinase activity. A surrogate assay for UL97 kinase activity confirmed that CPV inhibited the activity of this enzyme and that its action was similar to the inhibition seen with maribavir (MBV) in this assay. Combination studies using real-time PCR indicated that, like MBV, CPV also antagonized the efficacy of GCV and were consistent with the observed inhibition of the UL97 kinase. Deep sequencing of CPV-resistant laboratory isolates identified a frameshift mutation in UL27, presumably to compensate for a loss of UL97 enzymatic activity. We conclude that the mechanism of action of CPV against CMV is complex and involves both the inhibition of DNA synthesis and the inhibition of the normal activity of the UL97 kinase.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a bacterium endemic to Southeast Asia and northern Australia, but it has not been found to occur endemically in the United States. We report an ostensibly autochthonous case of melioidosis in the United States. Despite an extensive investigation, the source of exposure was not identified.
Multilocus sequence typing of seven isolates of Burkholderia pseudomallei from India showed considerable diversity, with six different sequence types. Possible dissemination of melioidosis by historical trading routes is supported by links to strains from Southeast Asia, China, and Africa and the presence of the Burkholderia mallei allele of the bimA gene.
Phage ?-Red proteins are powerful tools for pulling and knocking out chromosomal fragments but have been limited to the ?-proteobacteria. Procedures are described here to easily knock out (KO) and pull out (PO) chromosomal DNA fragments from naturally transformable Burkholderia thailandensis and Burkholderia pseudomallei. This system takes advantage of published compliant counterselectable and selectable markers (sacB, pheS, gat and the arabinose-utilization operon) and ?-Red mutant proteins. pheS-gat (KO) or oriT-ColE1ori-gat-ori1600-rep (PO) PCR fragments are generated with flanking 40- to 45-bp homologies to targeted regions incorporated on PCR primers. One-step recombination is achieved by incubation of the PCR product with cells expressing ?-Red proteins and subsequent selection on glyphosate-containing medium. This procedure takes ~10 d and is advantageous over previously published protocols: (i) smaller PCR products reduce primer numbers and amplification steps, (ii) PO fragments suitable for downstream manipulation in Escherichia coli are obtained and (iii) chromosomal KO increases flexibility for downstream processing.
Length polymorphisms within the 16S-23S ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) have been described as stable genetic markers for studying bacterial phylogenetics. In this study, we used these genetic markers to investigate phylogenetic relationships in Burkholderia pseudomallei and its near-relative species. B. pseudomallei is known as one of the most genetically recombined bacterial species. In silico analysis of multiple B. pseudomallei genomes revealed approximately four homologous rRNA operons and ITS length polymorphisms therein. We characterized ITS distribution using PCR and analyzed via a high-throughput capillary electrophoresis in 1,191 B. pseudomallei strains. Three major ITS types were identified, two of which were commonly found in most B. pseudomallei strains from the endemic areas, whereas the third one was significantly correlated with worldwide sporadic strains. Interestingly, mixtures of the two common ITS types were observed within the same strains, and at a greater incidence in Thailand than Australia suggesting that genetic recombination causes the ITS variation within species, with greater recombination frequency in Thailand. In addition, the B. mallei ITS type was common to B. pseudomallei, providing further support that B. mallei is a clone of B. pseudomallei. Other B. pseudomallei near-neighbors possessed unique and monomorphic ITS types. Our data shed light on evolutionary patterns of B. pseudomallei and its near relative species.
Coxiella burnetii has the potential to cause serious disease and is highly prevalent in the environment. Despite this, epidemiological data are sparse and isolate collections are typically small, rare, and difficult to share among laboratories as this pathogen is governed by select agent rules and fastidious to culture. With the advent of whole genome sequencing, some of this knowledge gap has been overcome by the development of genotyping schemes, however many of these methods are cumbersome and not readily transferable between institutions. As comparisons of the few existing collections can dramatically increase our knowledge of the evolution and phylogeography of the species, we aimed to facilitate such comparisons by extracting SNP signatures from past genotyping efforts and then incorporated these signatures into assays that quickly and easily define genotypes and phylogenetic groups. We found 91 polymorphisms (SNPs and indels) among multispacer sequence typing (MST) loci and designed 14 SNP-based assays that could be used to type samples based on previously established phylogenetic groups. These assays are rapid, inexpensive, real-time PCR assays whose results are unambiguous. Data from these assays allowed us to assign 43 previously untyped isolates to established genotypes and genomic groups. Furthermore, genotyping results based on assays from the signatures provided here are easily transferred between institutions, readily interpreted phylogenetically and simple to adapt to new genotyping technologies.
Rapid assignment of bacterial pathogens into predefined populations is an important first step for epidemiological tracking. For clonal species, a single allele can theoretically define a population. For non-clonal species such as Burkholderia pseudomallei, however, shared allelic states between distantly related isolates make it more difficult to identify population defining characteristics. Two distinct B. pseudomallei populations have been previously identified using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). These populations correlate with the major foci of endemicity (Australia and Southeast Asia). Here, we use multiple Bayesian approaches to evaluate the compositional robustness of these populations, and provide assignment results for MLST sequence types (STs). Our goal was to provide a reference for assigning STs to an established population without the need for further computational analyses. We also provide allele frequency results for each population to enable estimation of population assignment even when novel STs are discovered. The ability for humans and potentially contaminated goods to move rapidly across the globe complicates the task of identifying the source of an infection or outbreak. Population genetic dynamics of B. pseudomallei are particularly complicated relative to other bacterial pathogens, but the work here provides the ability for broad scale population assignment. As there is currently no independent empirical measure of successful population assignment, we provide comprehensive analytical details of our comparisons to enable the reader to evaluate the robustness of population designations and assignments as they pertain to individual research questions. Finer scale subdivision and verification of current population compositions will likely be possible with genotyping data that more comprehensively samples the genome. The approach used here may be valuable for other non-clonal pathogens that lack simple group-defining genetic characteristics and provides a rapid reference for epidemiologists wishing to track the origin of infection without the need to compile population data and learn population assignment algorithms.
Plague was introduced to Madagascar in 1898 and continues to be a significant human health problem. It exists mainly in the central highlands, but in the 1990s was reintroduced to the port city of Mahajanga, where it caused extensive human outbreaks. Despite its prevalence, the phylogeography and molecular epidemiology of Y. pestis in Madagascar has been difficult to study due to the great genetic similarity among isolates. We examine island-wide geographic-genetic patterns based upon whole-genome discovery of SNPs, SNP genotyping and hypervariable variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) loci to gain insight into the maintenance and spread of Y. pestis in Madagascar.
To determine potential links between the clinical isolate to animal products and their geographic origin, we genotyped (MLVA-8, MVLA-15, and canSNP analysis) 80 environmental and 12 clinical isolates and 2 clinical specimens from five cases of anthrax (California in 1976 [n = 1], New York in 2006 [n = 1], Connecticut in 2007 [n = 2], and New Hampshire in 2009[n = 1]) resulting from recreational handling of animal products. For the California case, four clinical isolates were identified as MLVA-8 genotype (GT) 76 and in the canSNP A.Br.Vollum lineage, which is consistent with the Pakistani origin of the yarn. Twenty eight of the California isolates were in the A.Br.Vollum canSNP lineage and one isolate was in the A.Br. 003/004 canSNP sub-group. All 52 isolates and both clinical specimens related to the New York and Connecticut cases were MLVA-8 GT 1. The animal products associated with the NY and CT cases were believed to originate from West Africa, but no isolates from this region are available to be genotyped for comparison. All isolates associated with the New Hampshire case were identical and had a new genotype (GT 149). Isolates from the NY, CT and NH cases diverge from the established canSNP phylogeny near the base of the A.Br.011/009. This report illustrates the power of the current genotyping methods and the dramatically different epidemiological conditions that can lead to infections (i.e., contamination by a single genotype versus widespread contamination of numerous genotypes). These cases illustrate the need to acquire and genotype global isolates so that accurate assignments can be made about isolate origins.
An isolate originally labeled Bacillus megaterium CDC 684 was found to contain both pXO1 and pXO2, was non-hemolytic, sensitive to gamma-phage, and produced both the protective antigen and the poly-D-glutamic acid capsule. These phenotypes prompted Ezzell et al., (J. Clin. Microbiol. 28:223) to reclassify this isolate to Bacillus anthracis in 1990.
A recent emergence of Cryptococcus gattii in the Pacific Northwest involves strains that fall into three primarily clonal molecular subtypes: VGIIa, VGIIb and VGIIc. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and variable number tandem repeat analysis appear to identify little diversity within these molecular subtypes. Given the apparent expansion of these subtypes into new geographic areas and their ability to cause disease in immunocompetent individuals, differentiation of isolates belonging to these subtypes could be very important from a public health perspective. We used whole genome sequence typing (WGST) to perform fine-scale phylogenetic analysis on 20 C. gattii isolates, 18 of which are from the VGII molecular type largely responsible for the Pacific Northwest emergence. Analysis both including and excluding (289,586 SNPs and 56,845 SNPs, respectively) molecular types VGI and VGIII isolates resulted in phylogenetic reconstructions consistent, for the most part, with MLST analysis but with far greater resolution among isolates. The WGST analysis presented here resulted in identification of over 100 SNPs among eight VGIIc isolates as well as unique genotypes for each of the VGIIa, VGIIb and VGIIc isolates. Similar levels of genetic diversity were found within each of the molecular subtype isolates, despite the fact that the VGIIb clade is thought to have emerged much earlier. The analysis presented here is the first multi-genome WGST study to focus on the C. gattii molecular subtypes involved in the Pacific Northwest emergence and describes the tools that will further our understanding of this emerging pathogen.
We characterized the prevalence, antibiotic susceptibility profiles, and genotypes of Staphylococcus aureus among US meat and poultry samples (n = 136). S. aureus contaminated 47% of samples, and multidrug resistance was common among isolates (52%). S. aureus genotypes and resistance profiles differed significantly among sample types, suggesting food animal-specific contamination.
Melioidosis is caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, a Gram-negative bacillus, primarily found in soils in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. A recent case of melioidosis in non-endemic Arizona was determined to be the result of locally acquired infection, as the patient had no travel history to endemic regions and no previous history of disease. Diagnosis of the case was confirmed through multiple microbiologic and molecular techniques. To enhance the epidemiological analysis, we conducted several molecular genotyping procedures, including multi-locus sequence typing, SNP-profiling, and whole genome sequence typing. Each technique has different molecular epidemiologic advantages, all of which provided evidence that the infecting strain was most similar to those found in Southeast Asia, possibly originating in, or around, Malaysia. Advancements in new typing technologies provide genotyping resolution not previously available to public health investigators, allowing for more accurate source identification.
Before the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, the developing field of microbial forensics relied on microbial genotyping schemes based on a small portion of a genome sequence. Amerithrax, the investigation into the anthrax letter attacks, applied high-resolution whole-genome sequencing and comparative genomics to identify key genetic features of the letters Bacillus anthracis Ames strain. During systematic microbiological analysis of the spore material from the letters, we identified a number of morphological variants based on phenotypic characteristics and the ability to sporulate. The genomes of these morphological variants were sequenced and compared with that of the B. anthracis Ames ancestor, the progenitor of all B. anthracis Ames strains. Through comparative genomics, we identified four distinct loci with verifiable genetic mutations. Three of the four mutations could be directly linked to sporulation pathways in B. anthracis and more specifically to the regulation of the phosphorylation state of Spo0F, a key regulatory protein in the initiation of the sporulation cascade, thus linking phenotype to genotype. None of these variant genotypes were identified in single-colony environmental B. anthracis Ames isolates associated with the investigation. These genotypes were identified only in B. anthracis morphotypes isolated from the letters, indicating that the variants were not prevalent in the environment, not even the environments associated with the investigation. This study demonstrates the forensic value of systematic microbiological analysis combined with whole-genome sequencing and comparative genomics.
The island of New Guinea is located midway between the worlds two major melioidosis endemic regions of Australia and Southeast Asia. Previous studies in Papua New Guinea have demonstrated autochthonous melioidosis in Balimo, Western province. In contrast to other regions of endemicity, isolates recovered from both environmental and clinical sources demonstrate narrow genetic diversity over large spatial and temporal scales.
Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia, displays subspecies-specific differences in virulence, geographic distribution, and genetic diversity. F. tularensis subsp. holarctica is widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In Europe, F. tularensis subsp. holarctica isolates have largely been assigned to two phylogenetic groups that have specific geographic distributions. Most isolates from Western Europe are assigned to the B.Br.FTNF002-00 group, whereas most isolates from Eastern Europe are assigned to numerous lineages within the B.Br.013 group. The eastern geographic extent of the B.Br.013 group is currently unknown due to a lack of phylogenetic knowledge about populations at the European/Asian juncture and in Asia. In this study, we address this knowledge gap by describing the phylogenetic structure of F. tularensis subsp. holarctica isolates from the country of Georgia, and by placing these isolates into a global phylogeographic context.
Next-generation sequencing enables use of whole-genome sequence typing (WGST) as a viable and discriminatory tool for genotyping and molecular epidemiologic analysis. We used WGST to confirm the linkage of a cluster of Coccidioides immitis isolates from 3 patients who received organ transplants from a single donor who later had positive test results for coccidioidomycosis. Isolates from the 3 patients were nearly genetically identical (a total of 3 single-nucleotide polymorphisms identified among them), thereby demonstrating direct descent of the 3 isolates from an original isolate. We used WGST to demonstrate the genotypic relatedness of C. immitis isolates that were also epidemiologically linked. Thus, WGST offers unique benefits to public health for investigation of clusters considered to be linked to a single source.
Castor bean is an important oil-producing plant in the Euphorbiaceae family. Its high-quality oil contains up to 90% of the unusual fatty acid ricinoleate, which has many industrial and medical applications. Castor bean seeds also contain ricin, a highly toxic Type 2 ribosome-inactivating protein, which has gained relevance in recent years due to biosafety concerns. In order to gain knowledge on global genetic diversity in castor bean and to ultimately help the development of breeding and forensic tools, we carried out an extensive chloroplast sequence diversity analysis. Taking advantage of the recently published genome sequence of castor bean, we assembled the chloroplast and mitochondrion genomes extracting selected reads from the available whole genome shotgun reads. Using the chloroplast reference genome we used the methylation filtration technique to readily obtain draft genome sequences of 7 geographically and genetically diverse castor bean accessions. These sequence data were used to identify single nucleotide polymorphism markers and phylogenetic analysis resulted in the identification of two major clades that were not apparent in previous population genetic studies using genetic markers derived from nuclear DNA. Two distinct sub-clades could be defined within each major clade and large-scale genotyping of castor bean populations worldwide confirmed previously observed low levels of genetic diversity and showed a broad geographic distribution of each sub-clade.
Cholera continues to be an important cause of human infections, and outbreaks are often observed after natural disasters, such as the one following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Once the cholera outbreak was confirmed, rumors spread that the disease was brought to Haiti by a battalion of Nepalese soldiers serving as United Nations peacekeepers. This possible connection has never been confirmed. We used whole-genome sequence typing (WGST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and antimicrobial susceptibility testing to characterize 24 recent Vibrio cholerae isolates from Nepal and evaluate the suggested epidemiological link with the Haitian outbreak. The isolates were obtained from 30 July to 1 November 2010 from five different districts in Nepal. We compared the 24 genomes to 10 previously sequenced V. cholerae isolates, including 3 from the Haitian outbreak (began July 2010). Antimicrobial susceptibility and PFGE patterns were consistent with an epidemiological link between the isolates from Nepal and Haiti. WGST showed that all 24 V. cholerae isolates from Nepal belonged to a single monophyletic group that also contained isolates from Bangladesh and Haiti. The Nepalese isolates were divided into four closely related clusters. One cluster contained three Nepalese isolates and three Haitian isolates that were almost identical, with only 1- or 2-bp differences. Results in this study are consistent with Nepal as the origin of the Haitian outbreak. This highlights how rapidly infectious diseases might be transmitted globally through international travel and how public health officials need advanced molecular tools along with standard epidemiological analyses to quickly determine the sources of outbreaks.
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