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J Clin Microbiol. 2003 May;41(5):2068-79.

Multilocus sequence typing and evolutionary relationships among the causative agents of melioidosis and glanders, Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei.

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Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, St. Mary's Hospital, London W2 1PG, United Kingdom.

Erratum in

  • J Clin Microbiol. 2003 Oct;41(10):4913.


A collection of 147 isolates of Burkholderia pseudomallei, B. mallei, and B. thailandensis was characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST). The 128 isolates of B. pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis, were obtained from diverse geographic locations, from humans and animals with disease, and from the environment and were resolved into 71 sequence types. The utility of the MLST scheme for epidemiological investigations was established by analyzing isolates from captive marine mammals and birds and from humans in Hong Kong with melioidosis. MLST gave a level of resolution similar to that given by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and identified the same three clones causing disease in animals, each of which was also associated with disease in humans. The average divergence between the alleles of B. thailandensis and B. pseudomallei was 3.2%, and there was no sharing of alleles between these species. Trees constructed from differences in the allelic profiles of the isolates and from the concatenated sequences of the seven loci showed that the B. pseudomallei isolates formed a cluster of closely related lineages that were fully resolved from the cluster of B. thailandensis isolates, confirming their separate species status. However, isolates of B. mallei, the causative agent of glanders, recovered from three continents over a 30-year period had identical allelic profiles, and the B. mallei isolates clustered within the B. pseudomallei group of isolates. Alleles at six of the seven loci in B. mallei were also present within B. pseudomallei isolates, and B. mallei is a clone of B. pseudomallei that, on population genetics grounds, should not be given separate species status.

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