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Infect Genet Evol. 2012 Jun;12(4):857-65. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.09.007. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

The global distribution and phylogeography of Mycobacterium bovis clonal complexes.

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Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge, New Haw, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK.


The consequences of the clonality of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex are described and, in particular, the identification of clonal complexes. Clonal complexes are groups of strains all descended from a single cell that was the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of the clonal complex and all bearing characteristics derived from the MRCA. Three clonal complexes of Mycobacterium bovis have been identified and called African 1, African 2 and European 1. Members of each clonal complex have a distinct spoligotype signature and are identified by a unique deletion present in each member of the clonal complex. The African 1 and African 2 clonal complexes are geographically localised to Central-West Africa and East Africa, respectively and have not been found in cattle outside of these regions. However, the European 1 clonal complex is globally distributed and has been identified in the British Isles, former British colonies, The Americas as well as Kazakhstan and Korea. It is suggested that modern cattle breeds, such as Herefords, bred in the UK in the 18th Century, would provide a good vehicle for the global distribution of this closely related group of strains. The phylogeography of M. bovis and M. tuberculosis are compared and in particular the diversity of M. tuberculosis in Africa, compared with the localised dominance of M. bovis clonal complexes, is highlighted. Finally, the practical use of M. bovis clonal complexes is reviewed, however, a more significant use of M. bovis clonal complexes is to generate testable hypotheses to understand the pathogenicity and spread of this important veterinary pathogen. This first look at the phylogeography of M. bovis clonal complexes has shown surprising geographical localisation of molecular types but also hints strongly that much of the worldwide distribution of bovine pathogen resulted from human trade in cattle within the last 200 years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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