Whole-genome sequence analysis of environmental Escherichia coli from the faeces of straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) nesting on inland wetlands.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Microbial genomics, 2020, 6, (6), pp. 1-16
Issue Date:
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Wildlife, and birds in particular, play an increasingly recognized role in the evolution and transmission of Escherichia coli that pose a threat to humans. To characterize these lineages and their potential threat from an evolutionary perspective, we isolated and performed whole-genome sequencing on 11 sequence types (STs) of E. coli recovered from the desiccated faeces of straw-necked ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) nesting on inland wetlands located in geographically different regions of New South Wales, Australia. Carriage of virulence-associated genes was limited, and no antimicrobial resistance genes were detected, but novel variants of an insertion element that plays an important role in capturing and mobilizing antibiotic resistance genes, IS26, were identified and characterized. The isolates belonged to phylogroups B1 and D, including types known to cause disease in humans and animals. Specifically, we found E. coli ST58, ST69, ST162, ST212, ST446, ST906, ST2520, ST6096 and ST6241, and a novel phylogroup D strain, ST10208. Notably, the ST58 strain hosted significant virulence gene carriage. The sequences of two plasmids hosting putative virulence-associated factors with incompatibility groups I1 and Y, an extrachromosomal integrative/conjugative element, and a variant of a large Escherichia phage of the family Myoviridae, were additionally characterized. We identified multiple epidemiologically relevant gene signatures that link the ibis isolates to sequences from international sources, plus novel variants of IS26 across different sequence types and in different contexts.
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