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1.  Genome Sequences of Three Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica Serovar Infantis Strains from Healthy Broiler Chicks in Hungary and in the United Kingdom 
Genome Announcements  2015;3(1):e01468-14.
The genome sequences of three strains of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Infantis isolated from broiler chickens in 1994 and 2004 in Hungary and in the 1980s in the United Kingdom are reported here. A sequence comparison should improve our understanding of the evolution of the genome and spread of S. Infantis in poultry.
PMCID: PMC4333649  PMID: 25676749
2.  The extant World War 1 dysentery bacillus NCTC1: a genomic analysis 
Lancet  2014;384(9955):1691-1697.
Shigellosis (previously bacillary dysentery) was the primary diarrhoeal disease of World War 1, but outbreaks still occur in military operations, and shigellosis causes hundreds of thousands of deaths per year in developing nations. We aimed to generate a high-quality reference genome of the historical Shigella flexneri isolate NCTC1 and to examine the isolate for resistance to antimicrobials.
In this genomic analysis, we sequenced the oldest extant Shigella flexneri serotype 2a isolate using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology. Isolated from a soldier with dysentery from the British forces fighting on the Western Front in World War 1, this bacterium, NCTC1, was the first isolate accessioned into the National Collection of Type Cultures. We created a reference sequence for NCTC1, investigated the isolate for antimicrobial resistance, and undertook comparative genetics with S flexneri reference strains isolated during the 100 years since World War 1.
We discovered that NCTC1 belonged to a 2a lineage of S flexneri, with which it shares common characteristics and a large core genome. NCTC1 was resistant to penicillin and erythromycin, and contained a complement of chromosomal antimicrobial resistance genes similar to that of more recent isolates. Genomic islands gained in the S flexneri 2a lineage over time were predominately associated with additional antimicrobial resistances, virulence, and serotype conversion.
This S flexneri 2a lineage is a well adapted pathogen that has continued to respond to selective pressures. We have created a valuable historical benchmark for shigellae in the form of a high-quality reference sequence for a publicly available isolate.
The Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC4226921  PMID: 25441199
3.  Genomic Investigations Unmask Mycoplasma amphoriforme, a New Respiratory Pathogen 
The results of high-resolution whole-genome sequencing data provide compelling evidence that Mycoplasma amphoriforme produces chronic relapsing infection and, importantly, is transmitted in a hospital environment.
Background. Mycoplasma amphoriforme has been associated with infection in patients with primary antibody deficiency (PAD). Little is known about the natural history of infection with this organism and its ability to be transmitted in the community.
Methods. The bacterial load was estimated in sequential sputum samples from 9 patients by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The genomes of all available isolates, originating from patients in the United Kingdom, France, and Tunisia, were sequenced along with the type strain. Genomic data were assembled and annotated, and a high-resolution phylogenetic tree was constructed.
Results. By using high-resolution whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data, we show that patients can be chronically infected with M. amphoriforme manifesting as a relapsing-remitting bacterial load, interspersed by periods when the organism is undetectable. Importantly, we demonstrate transmission of strains within a clinical environment. Antibiotic resistance mutations accumulate in isolates taken from patients who received multiple courses of antibiotics.
Conclusions. Mycoplasma amphoriforme isolates form a closely related species responsible for a chronic relapsing and remitting infection in PAD patients in the United Kingdom and from immunocompetent patients in other countries. We provide strong evidence of transmission between patients attending the same clinic, suggesting that screening and isolation may be necessary for susceptible patients. This work demonstrates the critical role that WGS can play in rapidly unraveling the biology of a novel pathogen.
PMCID: PMC4293396  PMID: 25344534
Mycoplasma amphoriforme; whole genome sequencing; respiratory infection; infection control; primary antibody deficiency
4.  Harm reduction 
Journal of food and drug analysis  2013;21(4):S10-S12.
The “Harm Reduction” session was chaired by Dr. Jacques Normand, Director of the AIDS Research Program of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. The three presenters (and their presentation topics) were: Dr. Don Des Jarlais (High Coverage Needle/Syringe Programs for People Who Inject Drugs in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review), Dr. Nicholas Thomson (Harm Reduction History, Response, and Current Trends in Asia), and Dr. Jih-Heng Li (Harm Reduction Strategies in Taiwan).
PMCID: PMC4179238  PMID: 25278732
Harm reduction; methadone; Needle/Syringe Programs
5.  Harm reduction history, response, and current trends in Asia 
Journal of food and drug analysis  2013;21(4):S113-S116.
HIV epidemics in Asia have been initially driven through injecting drug use and the use of shared needles and syringes. Molecular epidemiological work has shown that where there is heroin trafficking and use, so too is there HIV. Given the often strict enforcement of national anti-narcotic laws, harm reduction responses to HIV infections driven by injecting drug use have been historically slow. As it became clear that preventing HIV meant embracing harm reduction, many countries in the region have adopted harm reduction as part of their national AIDS strategy and increasingly as part of their national drug strategy. Initial successes have proven that harm reduction, as it pertains to HIV among IDUs, can and does work in Asia. These initial successes have led to more comprehensive scale-up of other essential components of HIV prevention among IDUs, including increased availability of opiate substitution programs. Still, multiple challenges remain as overall coverage of services in the region remains poor. Changes in the availability and patterns of use of drugs, including the exponential increase in the use of amphetamine-type stimulants, is providing ongoing challenges to both the law enforcement and public health sectors. This paper reflects on the history of harm reduction in Asia and the shifting trends forcing policy makers to adapt and expand harm reduction strategies to include an ever widening approach to criminal justice, policing, public health, and human rights.
PMCID: PMC4175908  PMID: 25264414
harm reduction; HIV prevention; opiate substitution programs
6.  Genome Evolution and Plasticity of Serratia marcescens, an Important Multidrug-Resistant Nosocomial Pathogen 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(8):2096-2110.
Serratia marcescens is an important nosocomial pathogen that can cause an array of infections, most notably of the urinary tract and bloodstream. Naturally, it is found in many environmental niches, and is capable of infecting plants and animals. The emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant strains producing extended-spectrum or metallo beta-lactamases now pose a threat to public health worldwide. Here we report the complete genome sequences of two carefully selected S. marcescens strains, a multidrug-resistant clinical isolate (strain SM39) and an insect isolate (strain Db11). Our comparative analyses reveal the core genome of S. marcescens and define the potential metabolic capacity, virulence, and multidrug resistance of this species. We show a remarkable intraspecies genetic diversity, both at the sequence level and with regards genome flexibility, which may reflect the diversity of niches inhabited by members of this species. A broader analysis with other Serratia species identifies a set of approximately 3,000 genes that characterize the genus. Within this apparent genetic diversity, we identified many genes implicated in the high virulence potential and antibiotic resistance of SM39, including the metallo beta-lactamase and multiple other drug resistance determinants carried on plasmid pSMC1. We further show that pSMC1 is most closely related to plasmids circulating in Pseudomonas species. Our data will provide a valuable basis for future studies on S. marcescens and new insights into the genetic mechanisms that underlie the emergence of pathogens highly resistant to multiple antimicrobial agents.
PMCID: PMC4231636  PMID: 25070509
Serratia marcescens; genome plasticity; virulence; multidrug resistance
7.  The Population Structure of Vibrio cholerae from the Chandigarh Region of Northern India 
Cholera infection continues to be a threat to global public health. The current cholera pandemic associated with Vibrio cholerae El Tor has now been ongoing for over half a century.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Thirty-eight V. cholerae El Tor isolates associated with a cholera outbreak in 2009 from the Chandigarh region of India were characterised by a combination of microbiology, molecular typing and whole-genome sequencing. The genomic analysis indicated that two clones of V. cholera circulated in the region and caused disease during this time. These clones fell into two distinct sub-clades that map independently onto wave 3 of the phylogenetic tree of seventh pandemic V. cholerae El Tor. Sequence analyses of the cholera toxin gene, the Vibrio seventh Pandemic Island II (VSPII) and SXT element correlated with this phylogenetic position of the two clades on the El Tor tree. The clade 2 isolates, characterized by a drug-resistant profile and the expression of a distinct cholera toxin, are closely related to the recent V. cholerae isolated elsewhere, including Haiti, but fell on a distinct branch of the tree, showing they were independent outbreaks. Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) distinguishes two sequence types among the 38 isolates, that did not correspond to the clades defined by whole-genome sequencing. Multi-Locus Variable-length tandem-nucleotide repeat Analysis (MLVA) identified 16 distinct clusters.
The use of whole-genome sequencing enabled the identification of two clones of V. cholerae that circulated during the 2009 Chandigarh outbreak. These clones harboured a similar structure of ICEVchHai1 but differed mainly in the structure of CTX phage and VSPII. The limited capacity of MLST and MLVA to discriminate between the clones that circulated in the 2009 Chandigarh outbreak highlights the value of whole-genome sequencing as a route to the identification of further genetic markers to subtype V. cholerae isolates.
Author Summary
Vibrio cholerae is a diarrheal pathogen that is responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. Historically, seven pandemics of cholera have been recognized, with classical biotype strains associated with the sixth and the El Tor biotype with the seventh (current) pandemic. Recently multi-drug resistant El Tor variants expressing classical cholera toxin have replaced the original El Tor strains in many epidemics, and are sometimes associated with more severe diarrhea leading to a higher mortality rate. In regions that experience recurrent cholera outbreaks, such as Northern India, it is important to understand the nature of the circulating strains and establish how they are related to the strains circulating globally. Here, we have demonstrated that whole- genome sequencing is a valuable method to characterize V. cholerae isolates that circulated during the 2009 outbreak in the Northern Indian city of Chandigarh. Through comparative genomic analysis, we identified two clones that circulated during a single outbreak. Importantly, these clones contain significant differences in the structure of the cholera toxin gene and the Vibrio seventh pandemic island II. Our findings demonstrate the limitations of current molecular typing techniques and the importance of surveillance with whole-genome sequencing for identifying V. cholerae clades with distinct genomic signatures.
PMCID: PMC4109905  PMID: 25058483
8.  RNA-seq analysis of the influence of anaerobiosis and FNR on Shigella flexneri 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:438.
Shigella flexneri is an important human pathogen that has to adapt to the anaerobic environment in the gastrointestinal tract to cause dysentery. To define the influence of anaerobiosis on the virulence of Shigella, we performed deep RNA sequencing to identify transcriptomic differences that are induced by anaerobiosis and modulated by the anaerobic Fumarate and Nitrate Reduction regulator, FNR.
We found that 528 chromosomal genes were differentially expressed in response to anaerobic conditions; of these, 228 genes were also influenced by FNR. Genes that were up-regulated in anaerobic conditions are involved in carbon transport and metabolism (e.g. ptsG, manX, murQ, cysP, cra), DNA topology and regulation (e.g. ygiP, stpA, hns), host interactions (e.g. yciD, nmpC, slyB, gapA, shf, msbB) and survival within the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. shiA, ospI, adiY, cysP). Interestingly, there was a marked effect of available oxygen on genes involved in Type III secretion system (T3SS), which is required for host cell invasion and pathogenesis. These genes, located on the large Shigella virulence plasmid, were down regulated in anaerobiosis in an FNR-dependent manner. We also confirmed anaerobic induction of csrB and csrC small RNAs in an FNR-independent manner.
Anaerobiosis promotes survival and adaption strategies of Shigella, while modulating virulence plasmid genes involved in T3SS-mediated host cell invasion. The influence of FNR on this process is more extensive than previously appreciated, although aside from the virulence plasmid, this transcriptional regulator does not govern expression of genes on other horizontally acquired sequences on the chromosome such as pathogenicity islands.
PMCID: PMC4229854  PMID: 24907032
9.  Complete Genome Sequences of Two Citrobacter rodentium Bacteriophages, CR8 and CR44b 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(3):e00146-14.
The complete genomes of two virulent phages infecting Citrobacter rodentium are reported here for the first time. Both bacteriophages were isolated from local sewage treatment plant effluents. Genome analyses revealed a close relationship between both phages and allowed their classification as members of the Autographivirinae subfamily in the T7-like genus.
PMCID: PMC4038870  PMID: 24874665
10.  Draft genome sequences of the type strains of Shigella flexneri held at Public Health England: comparison of classical phenotypic and novel molecular assays with whole genome sequence 
Gut Pathogens  2014;6:7.
Public Health England (PHE) holds a collection of Shigella flexneri Type strains isolated between 1949 and 1972 representing 15 established serotypes and one provisional type, E1037. In this study, the genomes of all 16 PHE Type strains were sequenced using the Illumina HiSeq platform. The relationship between core genome phylogeny and serotype was examined.
The most common target gene for the detection of Shigella species in clinical PCR assays, ipaH, was detected in all genomes. The type-specific target genes were correctly identified in each genome sequence. In contrast to the S. flexneri in serotype 5 strain described by Sun et al. (2012), the two PHE serotype 5 Type strains possessed an additional oac gene and were differentiated by the presence (serotype 5b) or absence (serotype 5a) of gtrX. The somatic antigen structure and phylogenetic relationship were broadly congruent for strains expressing serotype specific antigens III, IV and V, but not for those expressing I and II. The whole genome phylogenies of the 15 isolates sequenced showed that the serotype 6 Type Strain was phylogenetically distinct from the other S. flexneri serotypes sequenced. The provisional serotype E1037 fell within the serotype 4 clade, being most closely related to the Serotype 4a Type Strain.
The S. flexneri genome sequences were used to evaluate phylogenetic relationships between Type strains and validate genotypic and phenotypic assays. The analysis confirmed that the PHE S. flexneri Type strains are phenotypically and genotypically distinct. Novel variants will continue to be added to this archive.
PMCID: PMC3972513  PMID: 24684748
Shigella flexneri type strains; Next generation sequencing technology; Molecular serotyping
11.  Genomic Epidemiology of Vibrio cholerae O1 Associated with Floods, Pakistan, 2010 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(1):13-20.
At least 2 subclades coexisted that had different antimicrobial-resistance profiles and patterns of spread.
In August 2010, Pakistan experienced major floods and a subsequent cholera epidemic. To clarify the population dynamics and transmission of Vibrio cholerae in Pakistan, we sequenced the genomes of all V. cholerae O1 El Tor isolates and compared the sequences to a global collection of 146 V. cholerae strains. Within the global phylogeny, all isolates from Pakistan formed 2 new subclades (PSC-1 and PSC-2), lying in the third transmission wave of the seventh-pandemic lineage that could be distinguished by signature deletions and their antimicrobial susceptibilities. Geographically, PSC-1 isolates originated from the coast, whereas PSC-2 isolates originated from inland areas flooded by the Indus River. Single-nucleotide polymorphism accumulation analysis correlated river flow direction with the spread of PSC-2. We found at least 2 sources of cholera in Pakistan during the 2010 epidemic and illustrate the value of a global genomic data bank in contextualizing cholera outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC3884714  PMID: 24378019
cholera; Pakistan; whole-genome sequencing; global phylogeny; Vibrio cholerae O1; floods; bacteria; single-nucleotide polymorphism
12.  Genomic Characterisation of Invasive Non-Typhoidal Salmonella enterica Subspecies enterica Serovar Bovismorbificans Isolates from Malawi 
Invasive Non-typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS) are an important cause of bacteraemia in children and HIV-infected adults in sub-Saharan Africa. Previous research has shown that iNTS strains exhibit a pattern of gene loss that resembles that of host adapted serovars such as Salmonella Typhi and Paratyphi A. Salmonella enterica serovar Bovismorbificans was a common serovar in Malawi between 1997 and 2004.
We sequenced the genomes of 14 Malawian bacteraemia and four veterinary isolates from the UK, to identify genomic variations and signs of host adaptation in the Malawian strains.
Principal Findings
Whole genome phylogeny of invasive and veterinary S. Bovismorbificans isolates showed that the isolates are highly related, belonging to the most common international S. Bovismorbificans Sequence Type, ST142, in contrast to the findings for S. Typhimurium, where a distinct Sequence Type, ST313, is associated with invasive disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Although genome degradation through pseudogene formation was observed in ST142 isolates, there were no clear overlaps with the patterns of gene loss seen in iNTS ST313 isolates previously described from Malawi, and no clear distinction between S. Bovismorbificans isolates from Malawi and the UK.
The only defining differences between S. Bovismorbificans bacteraemia and veterinary isolates were prophage-related regions and the carriage of a S. Bovismorbificans virulence plasmid (pVIRBov).
iNTS S. Bovismorbificans isolates, unlike iNTS S. Typhiumrium isolates, are only distinguished from those circulating elsewhere by differences in the mobile genome. It is likely that these strains have entered a susceptible population and are able to take advantage of this niche. There are tentative signs of convergent evolution to a more human adapted iNTS variant. Considering its importance in causing disease in this region, S. Bovismorbificans may be at the beginning of this process, providing a reference against which to compare changes that may become fixed in future lineages in sub-Saharan Africa.
Author Summary
Bacteraemia and meningitis caused by non-typhoidal Salmonella (including serovars Typhimurium, Enteritidis and Bovismorbificans) are a serious health issue in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in young children and HIV-infected adults. Previous work has indicated that a distinct S. Typhimurium sequence type, ST313, has evolved and spread in these countries, and may be more human-adapted than isolates found in the developed world. We therefore investigated the genomes of Salmonella enterica serovar Bovismorbificans bacteraemia isolates from Malawi and compared them to genomes of veterinary S. Bovismorbificans isolates from the UK using Next Generation Sequencing Technology and subsequent genomic comparisons to establish if there is a genetic basis for this increase in invasive disease observed among African NTS. Contrary to the previous findings for S. Typhimurium, where a distinct ST is found only in sub-Saharan Africa, we discovered that the S. Bovismorbificans isolates from Malawi belong to the most common ST of the serovar and the genome is highly conserved across all sequenced isolates. The major differences between UK veterinary and African human isolates were due to prophage regions inserted into the genomes of African isolates, coupled with a higher prevalence of a virulence plasmid compared to the UK isolates.
PMCID: PMC3828162  PMID: 24244782
13.  A Study on the Geophylogeny of Clinical and Environmental Vibrio cholerae in Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74829.
Cholera remains a significant public health challenge in many sub-Saharan countries including Kenya. We have performed a combination of phylogenetic and phenotypic analysis based on whole genome DNA sequences derived from 40 environmental and 57 clinical V. cholerae from different regions of Kenya isolated between 2005 and 2010. Some environmental and all clinical isolates mapped back onto wave three of the monophyletic seventh pandemic V. cholerae El Tor phylogeny but other environmental isolates were phylogenetically very distinct. Thus, the genomes of the Kenyan V. cholerae O1 El Tor isolates are clonally related to other El Tor V. cholerae isolated elsewhere in the world and similarly harbour antibiotic resistance-associated STX elements. Further, the Kenyan O1 El Tor isolates fall into two distinct clades that may have entered Kenya independently.
PMCID: PMC3774669  PMID: 24066154
14.  Sequencing and Functional Annotation of Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli Serogroup O78 Strains Reveal the Evolution of E. coli Lineages Pathogenic for Poultry via Distinct Mechanisms 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(3):838-849.
Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) causes respiratory and systemic disease in poultry. Sequencing of a multilocus sequence type 95 (ST95) serogroup O1 strain previously indicated that APEC resembles E. coli causing extraintestinal human diseases. We sequenced the genomes of two strains of another dominant APEC lineage (ST23 serogroup O78 strains χ7122 and IMT2125) and compared them to each other and to the reannotated APEC O1 sequence. For comparison, we also sequenced a human enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) strain of the same ST23 serogroup O78 lineage. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the APEC O78 strains were more closely related to human ST23 ETEC than to APEC O1, indicating that separation of pathotypes on the basis of their extraintestinal or diarrheagenic nature is not supported by their phylogeny. The accessory genome of APEC ST23 strains exhibited limited conservation of APEC O1 genomic islands and a distinct repertoire of virulence-associated loci. In light of this diversity, we surveyed the phenotype of 2,185 signature-tagged transposon mutants of χ7122 following intra-air sac inoculation of turkeys. This procedure identified novel APEC ST23 genes that play strain- and tissue-specific roles during infection. For example, genes mediating group 4 capsule synthesis were required for the virulence of χ7122 and were conserved in IMT2125 but absent from APEC O1. Our data reveal the genetic diversity of E. coli strains adapted to cause the same avian disease and indicate that the core genome of the ST23 lineage serves as a chassis for the evolution of E. coli strains adapted to cause avian or human disease via acquisition of distinct virulence genes.
PMCID: PMC3584874  PMID: 23275093
15.  Efficient Production of Active Polyhydroxyalkanoate Synthase in Escherichia coli by Coexpression of Molecular Chaperones 
The type I polyhydroxyalkanoate synthase from Cupriavidus necator was heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli with simultaneous overexpression of chaperone proteins. Compared to expression of synthase alone (14.55 mg liter−1), coexpression with chaperones resulted in the production of larger total quantities of enzyme, including a larger proportion in the soluble fraction. The largest increase was seen when the GroEL/GroES system was coexpressed, resulting in approximately 6-fold-greater enzyme yields (82.37 mg liter−1) than in the absence of coexpressed chaperones. The specific activity of the purified enzyme was unaffected by coexpression with chaperones. Therefore, the increase in yield was attributed to an enhanced soluble fraction of synthase. Chaperones were also coexpressed with a polyhydroxyalkanoate production operon, resulting in the production of polymers with generally reduced molecular weights. This suggests a potential use for chaperones to control the physical properties of the polymer.
PMCID: PMC3592256  PMID: 23335776
16.  Genome and Transcriptome Adaptation Accompanying Emergence of the Definitive Type 2 Host-Restricted Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Pathovar 
mBio  2013;4(5):e00565-13.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium definitive type 2 (DT2) is host restricted to Columba livia (rock or feral pigeon) but is also closely related to S. Typhimurium isolates that circulate in livestock and cause a zoonosis characterized by gastroenteritis in humans. DT2 isolates formed a distinct phylogenetic cluster within S. Typhimurium based on whole-genome-sequence polymorphisms. Comparative genome analysis of DT2 94-213 and S. Typhimurium SL1344, DT104, and D23580 identified few differences in gene content with the exception of variations within prophages. However, DT2 94-213 harbored 22 pseudogenes that were intact in other closely related S. Typhimurium strains. We report a novel in silico approach to identify single amino acid substitutions in proteins that have a high probability of a functional impact. One polymorphism identified using this method, a single-residue deletion in the Tar protein, abrogated chemotaxis to aspartate in vitro. DT2 94-213 also exhibited an altered transcriptional profile in response to culture at 42°C compared to that of SL1344. Such differentially regulated genes included a number involved in flagellum biosynthesis and motility.
Whereas Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium can infect a wide range of animal species, some variants within this serovar exhibit a more limited host range and altered disease potential. Phylogenetic analysis based on whole-genome sequences can identify lineages associated with specific virulence traits, including host adaptation. This study represents one of the first to link pathogen-specific genetic signatures, including coding capacity, genome degradation, and transcriptional responses to host adaptation within a Salmonella serovar. We performed comparative genome analysis of reference and pigeon-adapted definitive type 2 (DT2) S. Typhimurium isolates alongside phenotypic and transcriptome analyses, to identify genetic signatures linked to host adaptation within the DT2 lineage.
PMCID: PMC3760250  PMID: 23982073
17.  Evidence for multiple waves of global transmission within the seventh cholera pandemic 
Nature  2011;477(7365):462-465.
Vibrio cholerae is a globally important pathogen that is endemic in many areas of the world and causes 3-5 million reported cases of cholera every year ( Historically there have been seven acknowledged cholera pandemics; included in the 7th and ongoing pandemic are the recent outbreaks in Zimbabwe and Haiti1. Only serogroup O1 isolates (consisting of two biotypes known as ‘classical’ and ‘El Tor’) and the derivative O1392,3 can cause epidemic cholera2. It is believed that the first six cholera pandemics were caused by the classical biotype but El Tor has subsequently spread globally and replaced the classical biotype in the current pandemic1. Detailed molecular epidemiological mapping of cholera has been compromised by a reliance on sub-genomic regions such as mobile elements to infer relationships, making El Tor isolates associated with the 7th pandemic appear superficially diverse. To understand the underlying phylogeny of the lineage responsible for the current pandemic we identified high resolution markers (single nucleotide polymorphisms; SNPs) in 154 whole genome sequences of globally and temporally representative V. cholerae isolates. Using this phylogeny we show that the 7th pandemic has spread from the Bay of Bengal in at least three independent but overlapping waves with a common ancestor in the 1950’s and identify multiple transcontinental transmission events. Additionally, we show how the acquisition of the SXT family of antibiotic resistance elements has shaped the pandemic spread and show that it was first acquired at least 10 years prior to its discovery in V. cholerae.
PMCID: PMC3736323  PMID: 21866102
18.  Antagonistic coevolution accelerates molecular evolution 
Nature  2010;464(7286):275-278.
The Red Queen hypothesis proposes that coevolution of interacting species (such as hosts and parasites) should drive molecular evolution through continual natural selection for adaptation and counter-adaptation1–3. Although the divergence observed at some host-resistance4–6 and parasite-infectivity7–9 genes is consistent with this, the long time periods typically required to study coevolution have so far prevented any direct empirical test. Here we show, using experimental populations of the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 and its viral parasite, phage Φ2 (refs 10, 11), that the rate of molecular evolution in the phage was far higher when both bacterium and phage coevolved with each other than when phage evolved against a constant host genotype. Coevolution also resulted in far greater genetic divergence between replicate populations, which was correlated with the range of hosts that coevolved phage were able to infect. Consistent with this, the most rapidly evolving phage genes under coevolution were those involved in host infection. These results demonstrate, at both the genomic and phenotypic level, that antagonistic coevolution is a cause of rapid and divergent evolution, and is likely to be a major driver of evolutionary change within species.
PMCID: PMC3717453  PMID: 20182425
19.  Global Phylogeny of Shigella sonnei Strains from Limited Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and Development of a Rapid and Cost-Effective SNP-Typing Scheme for Strain Identification by High-Resolution Melting Analysis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(1):303-305.
The current Shigella sonnei pandemic involves geographically associated, multidrug-resistant clones. This study has demonstrated that S. sonnei phylogeny can be accurately defined with limited single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). By typing 6 informative SNPs using a high-resolution melting (HRM) assay, major S. sonnei lineages/sublineages can be identified as defined by whole-genome variation.
PMCID: PMC3536230  PMID: 23115259
20.  Public Health Value of Next-Generation DNA Sequencing of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli Isolates from an Outbreak 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(1):232-237.
In 2009, an outbreak of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) on an open farm infected 93 persons, and approximately 22% of these individuals developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Genome sequencing was used to investigate outbreak-derived animal and human EHEC isolates. Phylogeny based on the whole-genome sequence was used to place outbreak isolates in the context of the overall E. coli species and the O157:H7 sequence type 11 (ST11) subgroup. Four informative single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified and used to design an assay to type 122 other outbreak isolates. The SNP phylogeny demonstrated that the outbreak strain was from a lineage distinct from previously reported O157:H7 ST11 EHEC and was not a member of the hypervirulent clade 8. The strain harbored determinants for two Stx2 verotoxins and other putative virulence factors. When linked to the epidemiological information, the sequence data indicate that gross contamination of a single outbreak strain occurred across the farm prior to the first clinical report of HUS. The most likely explanation for these results is that a single successful strain of EHEC spread from a single introduction through the farm by clonal expansion and that contamination of the environment (including the possible colonization of several animals) led ultimately to human cases.
PMCID: PMC3536255  PMID: 23135946
21.  Horizontally Acquired Glycosyltransferase Operons Drive Salmonellae Lipopolysaccharide Diversity 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(6):e1003568.
The immunodominant lipopolysaccharide is a key antigenic factor for Gram-negative pathogens such as salmonellae where it plays key roles in host adaptation, virulence, immune evasion, and persistence. Variation in the lipopolysaccharide is also the major differentiating factor that is used to classify Salmonella into over 2600 serovars as part of the Kaufmann-White scheme. While lipopolysaccharide diversity is generally associated with sequence variation in the lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis operon, extraneous genetic factors such as those encoded by the glucosyltransferase (gtr) operons provide further structural heterogeneity by adding additional sugars onto the O-antigen component of the lipopolysaccharide. Here we identify and examine the O-antigen modifying glucosyltransferase genes from the genomes of Salmonella enterica and Salmonella bongori serovars. We show that Salmonella generally carries between 1 and 4 gtr operons that we have classified into 10 families on the basis of gtrC sequence with apparent O-antigen modification detected for five of these families. The gtr operons localize to bacteriophage-associated genomic regions and exhibit a dynamic evolutionary history driven by recombination and gene shuffling events leading to new gene combinations. Furthermore, evidence of Dam- and OxyR-dependent phase variation of gtr gene expression was identified within eight gtr families. Thus, as O-antigen modification generates significant intra- and inter-strain phenotypic diversity, gtr-mediated modification is fundamental in assessing Salmonella strain variability. This will inform appropriate vaccine and diagnostic approaches, in addition to contributing to our understanding of host-pathogen interactions.
Author Summary
Bacterial pathogens frequently evolve mechanisms to vary the composition of their surface structures. The consequence is enhanced long-term survival by facilitating persistence and evasion of the host immune system. Salmonella sp., cause severe infections in a range of mammalian hosts and guard themselves with a protective coat, termed the O-antigen. Through genome sequence analyses we found that Salmonella have acquired an unprecedented repertoire of genetic sequences for modifying their O-antigen coat. There is strong evidence that these genetic factors have a dynamic evolutionary history and are spread through the bacterial population by bacteriophage. In addition to this genetic repertoire, we determined that Salmonella can and often do employ stochastic mechanisms for expression of these genetic factors. This means that O-antigen coat diversity can be generated within a Salmonella population that otherwise has a common genome. Our data significantly enhance our appreciation of the genetic and regulatory characteristics underpinning Salmonella O-antigen diversity. The role attributed to bacteriophage in generating this diversity highlights that Salmonella are acquiring an extensive repertoire of O-antigen modifying traits that may enhance the pathogen's ability to persist and cause disease in mammalian hosts. Such genetic traits may make useful markers for defining new epidemiological and diagnostic tools.
PMCID: PMC3688519  PMID: 23818865
22.  Shigella sonnei genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis indicate recent global dissemination from Europe 
Nature genetics  2012;44(9):1056-1059.
Shigella are human-adapted Escherichia coli that have gained the ability to invade the human gut mucosa and cause dysentery1,2, spreading efficiently via low-dose fecal-oral transmission3,4. Historically, S. sonnei has been predominantly responsible for dysentery in developed countries, but is now emerging as a problem in the developing world, apparently replacing the more diverse S. flexneri in areas undergoing economic development and improvements in water quality4-6. Classical approaches have shown S. sonnei is genetically conserved and clonal7. We report here whole-genome sequencing of 132 globally-distributed isolates. Our phylogenetic analysis shows that the current S. sonnei population descends from a common ancestor that existed less than 500 years ago and has diversified into several distinct lineages with unique characteristics. Our analysis suggests the majority of this diversification occurred in Europe, followed by more recent establishment of local pathogen populations in other continents predominantly due to the pandemic spread of a single, rapidly-evolving, multidrug resistant lineage.
PMCID: PMC3442231  PMID: 22863732
23.  Genome Sequence of Klebsiella pneumoniae Ecl8, a Reference Strain for Targeted Genetic Manipulation 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(1):e00027-12.
We report the genome sequence of Klebsiella pneumoniae subsp. pneumoniae Ecl8, a spontaneous streptomycin-resistant mutant of strain ECL4, derived from NCIB 418. K. pneumoniae Ecl8 has been shown to be genetically tractable for targeted gene deletion strategies and so provides a platform for in-depth analyses of this species.
PMCID: PMC3569361  PMID: 23405357
24.  Genome Sequence of Chlamydia psittaci Strain 01DC12 Originating from Swine 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(1):e00078-12.
Chlamydia psittaci is the etiological agent of psittacosis and is a zoonotic pathogen infecting birds and a variety of mammalian hosts. Here we report the genome sequence of the porcine strain 01DC12 which is representative of a novel clade of C. psittaci belonging to ompA genotype E.
PMCID: PMC3569293  PMID: 23405306
25.  Whole genome analysis of diverse Chlamydia trachomatis strains identifies phylogenetic relationships masked by current clinical typing 
Nature genetics  2012;44(4):413-S1.
Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for both trachoma and sexually transmitted infections causing substantial morbidity and economic cost globally. Despite this, our knowledge of its population and evolutionary genetics is limited. Here we present a detailed whole genome phylogeny from representative strains of both trachoma and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) biovars from temporally and geographically diverse sources. Our analysis demonstrates that predicting phylogenetic structure using the ompA gene, traditionally used to classify Chlamydia, is misleading because extensive recombination in this region masks true relationships. We show that in many instances ompA is a chimera that can be exchanged in part or whole, both within and between biovars. We also provide evidence for exchange of, and recombination within, the cryptic plasmid, another important diagnostic target. We have used our phylogenetic framework to show how genetic exchange has manifested itself in ocular, urogenital and LGV C. trachomatis strains, including the epidemic LGV serotype L2b.
PMCID: PMC3378690  PMID: 22406642

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