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.
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 Ashdown’s 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 Ashdown’s agar. We anticipate that Bu550 will catalyse research on B. ubonensis by enabling rapid identification of this organism from Ashdown’s-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. B. 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.
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.
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).
Phylogenetically critical, or canonical, SNPs (can-SNPs) were identified as subtyping targets through sequence analysis of 40 MRSA whole genomes from Luxembourg. Real-time PCR assays were designed around target SNPs and validated using a repository of 240 previously sub-typed and epidemiologically characterized Luxembourg MRSA isolates, including 153 community and hospital isolates, 69 isolates from long term care (LTC) facilities, and 21 prospectively analyzed MRSA isolates. Selected isolates were also analyzed by whole genome SNP typing (WGST) for comparison to the SNP assays and other subtyping techniques.
Fourteen real-time PCR assays were developed and validated, including two assays to determine presence of spa t003 or t008. The other twelve assays successfully provided a high degree of resolution within the t003 subtype. WGST analysis of the LTC facility isolates provided greater resolution than other subtyping tools, identifying clusters indicative of ongoing transmission within LTC facilities.
canSNP-based PCR assays are useful for local level MRSA phylotyping, especially in the presence of one or more dominant clones. The assays designed here can be easily adapted for investigating t003 MRSA strains in other regions in Western Europe. WGST provides substantially better resolution than other typing methods.
spa t003; MRSA; SNP assays; WGST; Luxembourg; Phylotyping; Molecular epidemiology
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.]
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.
Some bacterial pathogens establish long-term infections that are difficult or impossible to eradicate with current treatments. Rapid advances in genome sequencing technologies provide a powerful tool for understanding bacterial persistence within the human host. Burkholderia pseudomallei is considered a highly pathogenic bacterium because infection is commonly fatal. Here, we document within-host evolution of B. pseudomallei in a unique case of human infection with ongoing chronic carriage. Genomic comparison of isolates obtained 139 months (11.5 years) apart showed a strong signal of adaptation within the human host, including inactivation of virulence and immunogenic factors, and deletion of pathways involved in environmental survival. Two global regulatory genes were mutated in the 139-month isolate, indicating extensive regulatory changes favoring bacterial persistence. Our study provides insights into B. pseudomallei pathogenesis and, more broadly, identifies parallel evolutionary mechanisms that underlie chronic persistence of all bacterial pathogens.
“Candidatus Microthrix” bacteria are deeply branching filamentous actinobacteria which occur at the water-air interface of biological wastewater treatment plants, where they are often responsible for foaming and bulking. Here, we report the first draft genome sequence of a strain from this genus: “Candidatus Microthrix parvicella” strain Bio17-1.
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.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Category B pathogen and the causative agent of melioidosis – a serious infectious disease that is typically acquired directly from environmental reservoirs. Nearly all B. pseudomallei strains sequenced to date (>85 isolates) contain gene clusters that are related to the contact-dependent growth inhibition (CDI) systems of γ-proteobacteria. CDI systems from Escherichia coli and Dickeya dadantii play significant roles in bacterial competition, suggesting these systems may also contribute to the competitive fitness of B. pseudomallei. Here, we identify ten distinct CDI systems in B. pseudomallei based on polymorphisms within the cdiA-CT/cdiI coding regions, which are predicted to encode CdiA-CT/CdiI toxin/immunity protein pairs. Biochemical analysis of three B. pseudomallei CdiA-CTs revealed that each protein possesses a distinct tRNase activity capable of inhibiting cell growth. These toxin activities are blocked by cognate CdiI immunity proteins, which specifically bind the CdiA-CT and protect cells from growth inhibition. Using Burkholderia thailandensis E264 as a model, we show that a CDI system from B. pseudomallei 1026b mediates contact-dependent growth inhibition and is capable of delivering CdiA-CT toxins derived from other B. pseudomallei strains. These results demonstrate that Burkholderia species contain functional CDI systems, which may confer a competitive advantage to these bacteria.
contact-dependent growth inhibition; intercellular communication; ribonuclease; toxin-immunity proteins; tRNase activity
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.
The bacterial changes identified in this study may play an important role in the HIV risk reduction conferred by male circumcision. Decreasing the load of specific anaerobes could reduce HIV target cell recruitment to the foreskin. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the benefits of male circumcision could help to identify new intervention strategies for decreasing HIV transmission, applicable to populations with high HIV prevalence where male circumcision is culturally less acceptable.
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.
Maritime spread of plague led to the global dissemination of this disease and affected the course of human history. Multiple historical plague waves resulted in massive human mortalities in three classical plague pandemics: Justinian (6th and 7th centuries), Middle Ages (14th to 17th centuries), and third (mid-1800s to the present). Key to these events was the pathogen’s entry into new lands by “plague ships” via seaport cities. Although initial disease outbreaks in ports were common, they were almost never sustained for long and plague pathogens survived only if they could become established in ecologically suitable habitats. Although plague pathogens’ ability to invade port cities has been essential for intercontinental spread, these regions have not proven to be a suitable long-term niche. The disease dynamics in port cities such as Mahajanga are thus critical to plague pathogen amplification and dispersal into new suitable ecological niches for the observed global long-term maintenance of plague pathogens.
Phage λ Red proteins are powerful tools for pulling- and knocking-out chromosomal fragments but have been limited to the γ-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 counter-selectable and selectable markers (sacB, pheS, gat, and the arabinose utilization operon) and λ Red mutant proteins. pheS-gat (KO) or oriT-ColE1ori-gat-ori1600-rep (PO) PCR fragments are generated with flanking 40–45 bp homologies to targeted regions incorporated on PCR primers. One-step recombination is achieved by incubating the PCR product with cells expressing λ Red proteins and subsequent selection on glyphosate-containing medium. This procedure takes approximately 10 days and is advantageous over previously published protocols: i) smaller PCR products reduce primer numbers and amplification steps, ii) PO fragments for downstream manipulation in E. coli, and iii) chromosomal KO increases flexibility for downstream processing.
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.
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.
Melioidosis is an emerging infectious disease caused by the soil bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. In diagnostic and forensic settings, molecular detection assays need not only high sensitivity with low limits of detection but also high specificity. In a direct comparison of published and newly developed TaqMan PCR assays, we found the TTS1-orf2 assay to be superior in detecting B. pseudomallei directly from clinical specimens. The YLF/BTFC multiplex assay (targeting the Yersinia-like fimbrial/Burkholderia thailandensis-like flagellum and chemotaxis region) also showed high diagnostic sensitivity and provides additional information on possible geographic origin.
Case reports of Apophysomyces spp. in immunocompetent hosts have been a result of traumatic deep implantation of Apophysomyces spp. spore-contaminated soil or debris. On May 22, 2011 a tornado occurred in Joplin, MO, leaving 13 tornado victims with Apophysomyces trapeziformis infections as a result of lacerations from airborne material. We used whole genome sequence typing (WGST) for high-resolution phylogenetic SNP analysis of 17 outbreak Apophysomyces isolates and five additional temporally and spatially diverse Apophysomyces control isolates (three A. trapeziformis and two A. variabilis isolates). Whole genome SNP phylogenetic analysis revealed three clusters of genotypically related or identical A. trapeziformis isolates and multiple distinct isolates among the Joplin group; this indicated multiple genotypes from a single or multiple sources. Though no linkage between genotype and location of exposure was observed, WGST analysis determined that the Joplin isolates were more closely related to each other than to the control isolates, suggesting local population structure. Additionally, species delineation based on WGST demonstrated the need to reassess currently accepted taxonomic classifications of phylogenetic species within the genus Apophysomyces.
Fungal load quantification is a critical component of fungal community analyses. Limitation of current approaches for quantifying the fungal component in the human microbiome suggests the need for new broad-coverage techniques.
We analyzed 2,085 18S rRNA gene sequences from the SILVA database for assay design. We generated and quantified plasmid standards using a qPCR-based approach. We evaluated assay coverage against 4,968 sequences and performed assay validation following the Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments (MIQE) guidelines.
We designed FungiQuant, a TaqMan® qPCR assay targeting a 351 bp region in the fungal 18S rRNA gene. Our in silico analysis showed that FungiQuant is a perfect sequence match to 90.0% of the 2,617 fungal species analyzed. We showed that FungiQuant’s is 100% sensitive and its amplification efficiencies ranged from 76.3% to 114.5%, with r2-values of >0.99 against the 69 fungal species tested. Additionally, FungiQuant inter- and intra-run coefficients of variance ranged from <10% and <20%, respectively. We further showed that FungiQuant has a limit of quantification 25 copies and a limit of detection at 5 copies. Lastly, by comparing results from human-only background DNA with low-level fungal DNA, we showed that amplification in two or three of a FungiQuant performed in triplicate is statistically significant for true positive fungal detection.
FungiQuant has comprehensive coverage against diverse fungi and is a robust quantification and detection tool for delineating between true fungal detection and non-target human DNA.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is the etiological agent of melioidosis and a CDC category B select agent with no available effective vaccine. Previous immunizations in mice have utilized the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as a potential vaccine target because it is known as one of the most important antigenic epitopes in B. pseudomallei. Complicating this strategy are the four different B. pseudomallei LPS O-antigen types: A, B, B2, and rough. Sero-crossreactivity is common among O-antigens of Burkholderia species. Here, we identified the presence of multiple B. pseudomallei O-antigen types and sero-crossreactivity in its near-neighbor species.
PCR screening of O-antigen biosynthesis genes, phenotypic characterization using SDS-PAGE, and immunoblot analysis showed that majority of B. mallei and B. thailandensis strains contained the typical O-antigen type A. In contrast, most of B. ubonensis and B. thailandensis-like strains expressed the atypical O-antigen types B and B2, respectively. Most B. oklahomensis strains expressed a distinct and non-seroreactive O-antigen type, except strain E0147 which expressed O-antigen type A. O-antigen type B2 was also detected in B. thailandensis 82172, B. ubonensis MSMB108, and Burkholderia sp. MSMB175. Interestingly, B. thailandensis-like MSMB43 contained a novel serotype B positive O-antigen.
This study expands the number of species which express B. pseudomallei O-antigen types. Further work is required to elucidate the full structures and how closely these are to the B. pseudomallei O-antigens, which will ultimately determine the efficacy of the near-neighbor B serotypes for vaccine development.
The rapid advancement of genome technologies holds great promise for improving the quality and speed of clinical and public health laboratory investigations and for decreasing their cost. The latest generation of genome DNA sequencers can provide highly detailed and robust information on disease-causing microbes, and in the near future these technologies will be suitable for routine use in national, regional, and global public health laboratories. With additional improvements in instrumentation, these next- or third-generation sequencers are likely to replace conventional culture-based and molecular typing methods to provide point-of-care clinical diagnosis and other essential information for quicker and better treatment of patients. Provided there is free-sharing of information by all clinical and public health laboratories, these genomic tools could spawn a global system of linked databases of pathogen genomes that would ensure more efficient detection, prevention, and control of endemic, emerging, and other infectious disease outbreaks worldwide.
genome-based informatics; disease monitoring; information sharing; point-of-care clinical diagnosis; genomic tools; emerging diseases; infectious diseases; outbreaks; bacteria; viruses; parasites; pathogens
Burkholderia pseudomallei, a bacterium that causes the disease melioidosis, is intrinsically resistant to many antibiotics. First-line antibiotic therapy for treating melioidosis is usually the synthetic β-lactam, ceftazidime (CAZ), as almost all B. pseudomallei strains are susceptible to this drug. However, acquired CAZ resistance can develop in vivo during treatment with CAZ, which can lead to mortality if therapy is not switched to a different drug in a timely manner. Serial B. pseudomallei isolates obtained from an acute Thai melioidosis patient infected by a CAZ susceptible strain, who ultimately succumbed to infection despite being on CAZ therapy for the duration of their infection, were analyzed. Isolates that developed CAZ resistance due to a proline to serine change at position 167 in the β-lactamase PenA were identified. Importantly, these CAZ resistant isolates remained sensitive to the alternative melioidosis treatments; namely, amoxicillin-clavulanate, imipenem, and meropenem. Lastly, real-time polymerase chain reaction-based assays capable of rapidly identifying CAZ resistance in B. pseudomallei isolates at the position 167 mutation site were developed. The ability to rapidly identify the emergence of CAZ resistant B. pseudomallei populations in melioidosis patients will allow timely alterations in treatment strategies, thereby improving patient outcomes for this serious disease.
Burkholderia pseudomallei; ceftazidime; antibiotic resistance; melioidosis; β-lactamase; penA
Heroin may have been accidentally contaminated by an animal-derived source along a major drug trafficking route.
In December 2009, two unusual cases of anthrax were diagnosed in heroin users in Scotland. A subsequent anthrax outbreak in heroin users emerged throughout Scotland and expanded into England and Germany, sparking concern of nefarious introduction of anthrax spores into the heroin supply. To better understand the outbreak origin, we used established genetic signatures that provided insights about strain origin. Next, we sequenced the whole genome of a representative Bacillus anthracis strain from a heroin user (Ba4599), developed Ba4599-specific single-nucleotide polymorphism assays, and genotyped all available material from other heroin users with anthrax. Of 34 case-patients with B. anthracis–positive PCR results, all shared the Ba4599 single-nucleotide polymorphism genotype. Phylogeographic analysis demonstrated that Ba4599 was closely related to strains from Turkey and not to previously identified isolates from Scotland or Afghanistan, the presumed origin of the heroin. Our results suggest accidental contamination along the drug trafficking route through a cutting agent or animal hides used to smuggle heroin into Europe.
Anthrax; heroin; canSNP; epidemic; outbreak; Scotland; Bacillus anthracis; epidemiology; Trans-Eurasian; phylogenetic; bacteria
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.