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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Dec;78(24):8712-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02428-12. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

Genetic diversity among Clostridium botulinum strains harboring bont/A2 and bont/A3 genes.

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  • 1Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Clostridium botulinum type A strains are known to be genetically diverse and widespread throughout the world. Genetic diversity studies have focused mainly on strains harboring one type A botulinum toxin gene, bont/A1, although all reported bont/A gene variants have been associated with botulism cases. Our study provides insight into the genetic diversity of C. botulinum type A strains, which contain bont/A2 (n = 42) and bont/A3 (n = 4) genes, isolated from diverse samples and geographic origins. Genetic diversity was assessed by using bont nucleotide sequencing, content analysis of the bont gene clusters, multilocus sequence typing (MLST), and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Sequences of bont genes obtained in this study showed 99.9 to 100% identity with other bont/A2 or bont/A3 gene sequences available in public databases. The neurotoxin gene clusters of the subtype A2 and A3 strains analyzed in this study were similar in gene content. C. botulinum strains harboring bont/A2 and bont/A3 genes were divided into six and two MLST profiles, respectively. Four groups of strains shared a similarity of at least 95% by PFGE; the largest group included 21 out of 46 strains. The strains analyzed in this study showed relatively limited genetic diversity using either MLST or PFGE.

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