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Genome Biol Evol. 2013;5(10):1807-16. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evt136.

Evolution of enterohemorrhagic escherichia coli O26 based on single-nucleotide polymorphisms.

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Institute of Hygiene, University of Münster, Germany.


Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O26:H11/H⁻ is the predominant non-O157 EHEC serotype among patients with diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) worldwide. To elucidate their phylogeny and association between their phylogenetic background and clinical outcome of the infection, we investigated 120 EHEC O26:H11/H⁻ strains isolated between 1965 and 2012 from asymptomatic carriers and patients with diarrhea or HUS. Whole-genome shotgun sequencing (WGS) was applied to ten representative EHEC O26 isolates to determine single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) localizations within a predefined set of core genes. A multiplex SNP assay, comprising a randomly distributed subset of 48 SNPs, was established to detect SNPs in 110 additional EHEC O26 strains. Within approximately 1 Mb of core genes, WGS resulted in 476 high-quality bi-allelic SNP localizations. Forty-eight of these were subsequently investigated in 110 EHEC O26 and four different SNP clonal complexes (SNP-CC) were identified. SNP-CC2 was significantly associated with the development of HUS. Within the subsequently established evolutionary model of EHEC O26, we dated the emergence of human EHEC O26 to approximately 19,700 years ago and demonstrated a recent evolution within humans into the 4 SNP-CCs over the past 1,650 years. WGS and subsequent SNP typing enabled us to gain new insights into the evolution of EHEC O26 suggesting a common theme in this EHEC group with analogies to EHEC O157. In addition, the SNP-CC analysis may help to assess a risk in infected individuals for the progression to HUS and to implement more specific infection control measures.


EHEC O26; SNP typing; enterohemorrhagic E. coli; evolution; whole-genome shotgun sequencing

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