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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39082. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039082. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

Dissemination of clonal groups of Brachyspira hyodysenteriae amongst pig farms in Spain, and their relationships to isolates from other countries.

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  • 1Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of León, León, Spain.



Swine dysentery (SD) is a widespread diarrhoeal disease of pigs caused by infection of the large intestine with the anaerobic intestinal spirochaete Brachyspira hyodysenteriae. Understanding the dynamics of SD, and hence being able to develop more effective measures to counter its spread, depends on the ability to characterise B. hyodysenteriae variants and trace relationships of epidemic strains.


A collection of 51 Spanish and 1 Portuguese B. hyodysenteriae isolates was examined using a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme based on the sequences of seven conserved genomic loci. The isolates were allocated to 10 sequence types (STs) in three major groups of descent. Isolates in four of the STs were widely distributed in farms around Spain. One farm was infected with isolates from more than one ST. Sequence data obtained from PubMLST for 111 other B. hyodysenteriae strains from other countries then were included in the analysis. Two of the predominant STs that were found in Spain also were present in other European countries. The 73 STs were arranged in eleven clonal complexes (Cc) containing between 2 and 26 isolates. A population snapshot based on amino acid types (AATs) placed 75% of the isolates from 32 of the 48 AATs into one major cluster. The founder type AAT9 included 22 isolates from 10 STs that were recovered in Spain, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the UK, Canada, and the USA.


This MLST scheme provided sufficient resolution power to unambiguously characterise B. hyodysenteriae isolates, and can be recommended as a routine typing tool that rapidly enables comparisons of isolates. Using this method it was shown that some of the main genetic lineages of B. hyodysenteriae in Spain also occurred in other countries, providing further evidence for international transmission. Finally, analysis of AATs appeared useful for deducing putative ancestral relationships between strains.

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