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1.  Global Genetic Population Structure of Bacillus anthracis 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(5):e461.
Anthrax, caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, is a disease of historical and current importance that is found throughout the world. The basis of its historical transmission is anecdotal and its true global population structure has remained largely cryptic. Seven diverse B. anthracis strains were whole-genome sequenced to identify rare single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), followed by phylogenetic reconstruction of these characters onto an evolutionary model. This analysis identified SNPs that define the major clonal lineages within the species. These SNPs, in concert with 15 variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) markers, were used to subtype a collection of 1,033 B. anthracis isolates from 42 countries to create an extensive genotype data set. These analyses subdivided the isolates into three previously recognized major lineages (A, B, and C), with further subdivision into 12 clonal sub-lineages or sub-groups and, finally, 221 unique MLVA15 genotypes. This rare genomic variation was used to document the evolutionary progression of B. anthracis and to establish global patterns of diversity. Isolates in the A lineage are widely dispersed globally, whereas the B and C lineages occur on more restricted spatial scales. Molecular clock models based upon genome-wide synonymous substitutions indicate there was a massive radiation of the A lineage that occurred in the mid-Holocene (3,064–6,127 ybp). On more recent temporal scales, the global population structure of B. anthracis reflects colonial-era importation of specific genotypes from the Old World into the New World, as well as the repeated industrial importation of diverse genotypes into developed countries via spore-contaminated animal products. These findings indicate humans have played an important role in the evolution of anthrax by increasing the proliferation and dispersal of this now global disease. Finally, the value of global genotypic analysis for investigating bioterrorist-mediated outbreaks of anthrax is demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC1866244  PMID: 17520020
2.  Tandem repeat regions within the Burkholderia pseudomallei genome and their application for high resolution genotyping 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:23.
The facultative, intracellular bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis, a serious infectious disease of humans and animals. We identified and categorized tandem repeat arrays and their distribution throughout the genome of B. pseudomallei strain K96243 in order to develop a genetic typing method for B. pseudomallei. We then screened 104 of the potentially polymorphic loci across a diverse panel of 31 isolates including B. pseudomallei, B. mallei and B. thailandensis in order to identify loci with varying degrees of polymorphism. A subset of these tandem repeat arrays were subsequently developed into a multiple-locus VNTR analysis to examine 66 B. pseudomallei and 21 B. mallei isolates from around the world, as well as 95 lineages from a serial transfer experiment encompassing ~18,000 generations.
B. pseudomallei contains a preponderance of tandem repeat loci throughout its genome, many of which are duplicated elsewhere in the genome. The majority of these loci are composed of repeat motif lengths of 6 to 9 bp with 4 to 10 repeat units and are predominately located in intergenic regions of the genome. Across geographically diverse B. pseudomallei and B.mallei isolates, the 32 VNTR loci displayed between 7 and 28 alleles, with Nei's diversity values ranging from 0.47 and 0.94. Mutation rates for these loci are comparable (>10-5 per locus per generation) to that of the most diverse tandemly repeated regions found in other less diverse bacteria.
The frequency, location and duplicate nature of tandemly repeated regions within the B. pseudomallei genome indicate that these tandem repeat regions may play a role in generating and maintaining adaptive genomic variation. Multiple-locus VNTR analysis revealed extensive diversity within the global isolate set containing B. pseudomallei and B. mallei, and it detected genotypic differences within clonal lineages of both species that were identical using previous typing methods. Given the health threat to humans and livestock and the potential for B. pseudomallei to be released intentionally, MLVA could prove to be an important tool for fine-scale epidemiological or forensic tracking of this increasingly important environmental pathogen.
PMCID: PMC1853098  PMID: 17397553
3.  Bacillus anthracis Bioterrorism Incident, Kameido, Tokyo, 1993 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(1):117-120.
In July 1993, a liquid suspension of Bacillus anthracis was aerosolized from the roof of an eight-story building in Kameido, Tokyo, Japan, by the religious group Aum Shinrikyo. During 1999 to 2001, microbiologic tests were conducted on a liquid environmental sample originally collected during the 1993 incident. Nonencapsulated isolates of B. anthracis were cultured from the liquid. Multiple-locus, variable-number tandem repeat analysis found all isolates to be identical to a strain used in Japan to vaccinate animals against anthrax, which was consistent with the Aum Shinrikyo members’ testimony about the strain source. In 1999, a retrospective case-detection survey was conducted to identify potential human anthrax cases associated with the incident, but none were found. The use of an attenuated B. anthracis strain, low spore concentrations, ineffective dispersal, a clogged spray device, and inactivation of the spores by sunlight are all likely contributing factors to the lack of human cases.
PMCID: PMC3322761  PMID: 15112666
Bacillus anthracis; bioterrorism; anthrax; epidemiology; Aum Shinrikyo; Japan
4.  Molecular Typing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Using Nine Novel Variable-Number Tandem Repeats across the Beijing Family and Low-Copy-Number IS6110 Isolates 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(9):4224-4230.
Molecular epidemiological tools for genotyping clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis have been developed and used to help track and contain transmission of tuberculosis. We identified 87 short sequence repeat loci within the genome of the M. tuberculosis H37Rv strain. Nine tandem repeats were found to be variable (variable-number tandem repeats [VNTRs]) in a set of 91 isolates. Fifty-seven of the isolates had only four IS6110 bands. The other 34 isolates were members of the Beijing strain family. The number of alleles of each these nine VNTRs was determined by examining each isolate. Six of the loci (Mtb-v1, -v4, -v10, -v15, -v18, and -v20) were able to differentiate the Beijing spoligotype identical isolates into seven distinct genotypes. Five of the loci (Mtb-v3, -v5, -v6, -v10, and -v15) were informative in discriminating the four-band IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism isolates from each other. The Nei's diversity values of each marker ranged from 0.02 to 0.59, with the number of alleles ranging from two to eight across the entire strain set. These nine loci provide a useful, discriminatory extension of VNTR typing methods for application to molecular epidemiologic studies of M. tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC193784  PMID: 12958249
5.  Bacillus anthracis Virulence in Guinea Pigs Vaccinated with Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed Is Linked to Plasmid Quantities and Clonality 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(3):1212-1218.
Bacillus anthracis is a bacterial pathogen of great importance, both historically and in the present. This study presents data collected from several investigations and indicates that B. anthracis virulence is associated with the clonality and virulence of plasmids pXO1 and pXO2. Guinea pigs vaccinated with Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed were challenged with 20 B. anthracis isolates representative of worldwide genetic diversity. These same isolates were characterized with respect to plasmid copy number by using a novel method of quantitative PCR developed for rapid and efficient detection of B. anthracis from environmental samples. We found that the copy numbers for both pXO1 and pXO2 differed from those in previously published reports. By combining the data on survival, plasmid copy numbers, and clonality, we developed a model predicting virulence. This model was validated by using a randomly chosen set of 12 additional B. anthracis isolates. Results from this study will be helpful in future efforts to elucidate the basis for variation in the virulence of this important pathogen.
PMCID: PMC150325  PMID: 12624053
6.  Antimicrobial Susceptibilities of Diverse Bacillus anthracis Isolates 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2002;46(12):3843-3845.
A test of 25 genetically diverse isolates of Bacillus anthracis was conducted to determine their susceptibility to seven clinically relevant antimicrobial agents. Etest strips (AB BIODISK, Solna, Sweden) were used to measure the MICs for the isolates. Using the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards MIC breakpoints for staphylococci, three isolates were found to be resistant to penicillin and five were found to be resistant to cefuroxime. The penicillin-resistant isolates were negative for β-lactamase production. Continued surveillance of B. anthracis field isolates is recommended to monitor antimicrobial susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC132748  PMID: 12435686
7.  Diversity among French Bacillus anthracis Isolates 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(12):4732-4734.
While outbreaks of animal anthrax zoonoses still regularly occur in France, little is known about the epidemiology links between them. We have used the eight-locus multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis typing technique against a collection of 50 Bacillus anthracis isolates from France. There were eight distinct genotypes belonging to two dissimilar genetic clusters. Regional strain patterns were observed, with the B2 genotypes prevalent in southern France and the A1a genotypes found only in northern France.
PMCID: PMC154597  PMID: 12454180
8.  Strain Typing of Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia afzelii, and Borrelia garinii by Using Multiple-Locus Variable-Number Tandem Repeat Analysis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(12):4612-4618.
Human Lyme borreliosis (LB) is the most prevalent arthropod-borne infection in temperate climate zones around the world and is caused by Borrelia spirochetes. We have identified 10 variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) loci present within the genome of Borrelia burgdorferi and subsequently developed a multiple-locus VNTR analysis (MLVA) typing system for this disease agent. We report here the successful application of MLVA for strain discrimination among a group of 41 globally diverse Borrelia isolates including B. burgdorferi, B. afzelii, and B. garinii. PCR assays displayed diversity at these loci, with total allele numbers ranging from two to nine and Nei's diversity (D) values ranging from 0.10 to 0.87. The average D value was 0.53 across all VNTR loci. A clear correlation exists between the repeat copy number and the D value (r = 0.62) or the number of alleles (r = 0.93) observed across diverse strains. Cluster analysis by the unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic means resolved the 30 observed unique Borrelia genotypes into five distinct groups. B. burgdorferi, B. afzelii, and B. garinii clustered into distinct affiliations, consistent with current 16S rRNA phylogeny studies. Genetic similarity and diversity suggest that B. afzelii and B. garinii are close relatives and were perhaps recently derived from B. burgdorferi. MLVA provides both phylogenetic relationships and additional resolution to discriminate among strains of Borrelia species. This new level of strain identification and discrimination will allow more detailed epidemiological and phylogenetic analysis in future studies.
PMCID: PMC154584  PMID: 12454161
9.  Molecular Analysis of Rifampin Resistance in Bacillus anthracis and Bacillus cereus 
Rifampin-resistant mutants were selected from UV-light-treated Bacillus cereus (20 mutants) and attenuated B. anthracis (23 mutants). In addition, spontaneous rifampin-resistant mutants were also isolated in attenuated B. anthracis (22 mutants). The rifampin resistance clusters of the rpoB gene were sequenced for all 65 mutants. Mutations associated with resistance were consistent with those from other bacteria, though two novel changes were observed. The spontaneous rate of resistance was estimated at 1.57 × 10−9 mutations/generation by a Luria-Delbrück fluctuation test.
PMCID: PMC127050  PMID: 11796364
10.  Molecular Investigation of the Aum Shinrikyo Anthrax Release in Kameido, Japan 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(12):4566-4567.
In 1993, the Aum Shinrikyo cult aerosolized Bacillus anthracis spores over Kameido, Japan. Spore samples were obtained from the release site, cultured, and characterized by molecular genetic typing. The isolates were consistent with strain Sterne 34F2, which is used in Japan for animal prophylaxis against anthrax.
PMCID: PMC88589  PMID: 11724885
11.  Francisella tularensis Strain Typing Using Multiple-Locus, Variable-Number Tandem Repeat Analysis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(9):3186-3192.
Francisella tularensis, the etiological agent of tularemia, is found throughout the Northern hemisphere. After analyzing the F. tularensis genomic sequence for potential variable-number tandem repeats (VNTRs), we developed a multilocus VNTR analysis (MLVA) typing system for this pathogen. Variation was detected at six VNTR loci in a set of 56 isolates from California, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Oregon and the F. tularensis live vaccine strain. PCR assays revealed diversity at these loci with total allele numbers ranging from 2 to 20, and Nei's diversity index values ranging from 0.36 to 0.93. Cluster analysis identified two genetically distinct groups consistent with the current biovar classification system of F. tularensis. These findings suggest that these VNTR markers are useful for identifying F. tularensis isolates at this taxonomic level. In this study, biovar B isolates were less diverse than those in biovar A, possibly reflecting the history of tularemia in North America. Seven isolates from a recent epizootic in Maricopa County, Ariz., were identical at all VNTR marker loci. Their identity, even at a hypervariable VNTR locus, indicates a common source of infection. This demonstrates the applicability of MLVA for rapid characterization and identification of outbreak isolates. Future construction of reference databases will allow faster outbreak tracking as well as providing a foundation for deciphering global genetic relationships.
PMCID: PMC88316  PMID: 11526148

Results 1-11 (11)