Culture-independent genome sequencing of clinical samples reveals an unexpected heterogeneity of infections by chlamydia pecorum

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 2015, 53 (5), pp. 1573 - 1581
Issue Date:
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Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. Chlamydia pecorum is an important global pathogen of livestock, and it is also a significant threat to the long-term survival of Australia's koala populations. This study employed a culture-independent DNA capture approach to sequence C. pecorum genomes directly from clinical swab samples collected from koalas with chlamydial disease as well as from sheep with arthritis and conjunctivitis. Investigations into single-nucleotide polymorphisms within each of the swab samples revealed that a portion of the reads in each sample belonged to separate C. pecorum strains, suggesting that all of the clinical samples analyzed contained mixed populations of genetically distinct C. pecorum isolates. This observation was independent of the anatomical site sampled and the host species. Using the genomes of strains identified in each of these samples, whole-genome phylogenetic analysis revealed that a clade containing a bovine and a koala isolate is distinct from other clades comprised of livestock or koala C. pecorum strains. Providing additional evidence to support exposure of koalas to Australian livestock strains, two minor strains assembled from the koala swab samples clustered with livestock strains rather than koala strains. Culture-independent probebased genome capture and sequencing of clinical samples provides the strongest evidence yet to suggest that naturally occurring chlamydial infections are comprised of multiple genetically distinct strains.
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