Phylogenetic analysis of human Chlamydia pneumoniae strains reveals a distinct Australian indigenous clade that predates European exploration of the continent

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Genomics, 2015, 16 (1)
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© 2015 Roulis et al. Background: The obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae is a common respiratory pathogen, which has been found in a range of hosts including humans, marsupials and amphibians. Whole genome comparisons of human C. pneumoniae have previously highlighted a highly conserved nucleotide sequence, with minor but key polymorphisms and additional coding capacity when human and animal strains are compared. Results: In this study, we sequenced three Australian human C. pneumoniae strains, two of which were isolated from patients in remote indigenous communities, and compared them to all available C. pneumoniae genomes. Our study demonstrated a phylogenetically distinct human C. pneumoniae clade containing the two indigenous Australian strains, with estimates that the most recent common ancestor of these strains predates the arrival of European settlers to Australia. We describe several polymorphisms characteristic to these strains, some of which are similar in sequence to animal C. pneumoniae strains, as well as evidence to suggest that several recombination events have shaped these distinct strains. Conclusions: Our study reveals a greater sequence diversity amongst both human and animal C. pneumoniae strains, and suggests that a wider range of strains may be circulating in the human population than current sampling indicates.
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