Article

Genetic diversity of the human pathogen Vibrio vulnificus: A new phylogroup

Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel.
International journal of food microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.16). 02/2012; 153(3):436-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2011.12.011
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ABSTRACT The biotype 3 group of the human pathogen Vibrio vulnificus emerged in Israel probably as a result of genome hybridization of two bacterial populations. We performed a genomic and phylogenetic study of V. vulnificus strains isolated from the environmental niche from which this group emerged - fish aquaculture in Israel. The genetic relationships and evolutionary aspects of 188 environmental and clinical isolates of the bacterium were studied by genomic typing. Genetic relations were determined based on variation at 12 variable number tandem repeat (VNTR, also termed SSR) loci. Analysis revealed a new cluster, in addition to the main groups of biotype 1& 2 and biotype 3. Similar grouping results were obtained with three different statistical approaches. Isolates forming this new cluster presented unclear biochemical profile nevertheless were not identified as biotype 1 or biotype 3. Further examination of representative strains by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) of 10 housekeeping genes and 5 conserved hypothetical genes supported the identification of this as yet undiscovered phylogroup (phenotypically diverse), termed clade A herein. This new clonal subgroup includes environmental as well as clinical isolates. The results highlight the fish aquaculture environment, and possibly man-made ecological niches as a whole, as a source for the emergence of new pathogenic strains.

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