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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Apr;80(7):2125-32. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03934-13. Epub 2014 Jan 24.

Whole-genome single-nucleotide-polymorphism analysis for discrimination of Clostridium botulinum group I strains.

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Division of Microbiology, Office of Regulatory Science, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, College Park, Maryland, USA.


Clostridium botulinum is a genetically diverse Gram-positive bacterium producing extremely potent neurotoxins (botulinum neurotoxins A through G [BoNT/A-G]). The complete genome sequences of three strains harboring only the BoNT/A1 nucleotide sequence are publicly available. Although these strains contain a toxin cluster (HA(+) OrfX(-)) associated with hemagglutinin genes, little is known about the genomes of subtype A1 strains (termed HA(-) OrfX(+)) that lack hemagglutinin genes in the toxin gene cluster. We sequenced the genomes of three BoNT/A1-producing C. botulinum strains: two strains with the HA(+) OrfX(-) cluster (69A and 32A) and one strain with the HA(-) OrfX(+) cluster (CDC297). Whole-genome phylogenic single-nucleotide-polymorphism (SNP) analysis of these strains along with other publicly available C. botulinum group I strains revealed five distinct lineages. Strains 69A and 32A clustered with the C. botulinum type A1 Hall group, and strain CDC297 clustered with the C. botulinum type Ba4 strain 657. This study reports the use of whole-genome SNP sequence analysis for discrimination of C. botulinum group I strains and demonstrates the utility of this analysis in quickly differentiating C. botulinum strains harboring identical toxin gene subtypes. This analysis further supports previous work showing that strains CDC297 and 657 likely evolved from a common ancestor and independently acquired separate BoNT/A1 toxin gene clusters at distinct genomic locations.

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