Characterization of the natural population of Bartonella henselae by multilocus sequence typing

J Iredell, D Blanckenberg, M Arvand, S Grauling, E J Feil, R J Birtles

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Investigations of the population genetics of Bartonella henselae have demonstrated a high level of diversity among strains, and the delineation of isolates into one of two subtypes, type I (Houston) and type II (Marseille), represented by specific 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences, has long been considered the most significant genotypic division within the species. This belief is challenged by recent work suggesting a role for horizontal gene exchange in generating intraspecies diversity. We attempted to resolve this issue and extend exploration of the population structure of B. henselae by using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to examine the distribution of polymorphisms within nine different genes in a sample of 37 human and feline isolates. MLST distinguished seven sequence types (STs) that resolved into three distinct lineages, suggesting a clonal population structure for the species, and support for these divisions was obtained by macrorestriction analysis using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The distribution of STs among isolates recovered from human infections was not random, and such isolates were significantly more often associated with one particular ST, lending further support to the suggestion that specific genotypes contribute disproportionately to the disease burden in humans. All but one isolate lay on lineages that bore the representative strain of either the Houston or Marseille subtype. However, the distribution of the two 16S rDNA alleles among the isolates was not entirely congruent with their lineage allocations, indicating that this is not a sensitive marker of the clonal divisions within the species. The inheritances of several of the genes studied could not be reconciled with one another, providing further evidence of horizontal gene transfer among B. henselae strains and suggesting that recombination has a role in shaping the genetic character of bartonellae.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5071-5079
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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ID number: ISI:000186665500024


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