Monomorphic genotypes within a generalist lineage of Campylobacter jejuni show signs of global dispersion

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Microbiology Society
2016 The Authors. Published by Microbiology Society This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
The decreased costs of genome sequencing have increased the capability to apply whole-genome sequencing to epidemiological surveillance of zoonotic Campylobacter jejuni. However, knowledge of the genetic diversity of this bacteria is vital for inferring relatedness between epidemiologically linked isolates and a necessary prerequisite for correct application of this methodology. To address this issue in C. jejuni we investigated the spatial and temporal signals in the genomes of a major clonal complex and generalist lineage, ST-45 CC, by analysing the population structure and genealogy as well as applying genome-wide association analysis of 340 isolates from across Europe collected over a wide time range. The occurrence and strength of the geographical signal varied between sublineages and followed the clonal frame when present, while no evidence of a temporal signal was found. Certain sublineages of ST-45 formed discrete and genetically isolated clades containing isolates with extremely similar genomes regardless of time and location of sampling. Based on a separate data set, these monomorphic genotypes represent successful C. jejuni clones, possibly spread around the globe by rapid animal (migrating birds), food or human movement. In addition, we observed an incongruence between the genealogy of the strains and multilocus sequence typing (MLST), challenging the existing clonal complex definition and the use of whole-genome gene-by-gene hierarchical nomenclature schemes for C. jejuni.
Campylobacter jejuni, genomic epidemiology, monomorphic clones, whole-genome sequencing