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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 Sep 30;82(20):6258-6272. Print 2016 Oct 15.

Core Genome Multilocus Sequence Typing for Identification of Globally Distributed Clonal Groups and Differentiation of Outbreak Strains of Listeria monocytogenes.

Author information

1
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, College Park, Maryland, USA yi.chen@fda.hhs.gov.
2
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, College Park, Maryland, USA.

Abstract

Many listeriosis outbreaks are caused by a few globally distributed clonal groups, designated clonal complexes or epidemic clones, of Listeria monocytogenes, several of which have been defined by classic multilocus sequence typing (MLST) schemes targeting 6 to 8 housekeeping or virulence genes. We have developed and evaluated core genome MLST (cgMLST) schemes and applied them to isolates from multiple clonal groups, including those associated with 39 listeriosis outbreaks. The cgMLST clusters were congruent with MLST-defined clonal groups, which had various degrees of diversity at the whole-genome level. Notably, cgMLST could distinguish among outbreak strains and epidemiologically unrelated strains of the same clonal group, which could not be achieved using classic MLST schemes. The precise selection of cgMLST gene targets may not be critical for the general identification of clonal groups and outbreak strains. cgMLST analyses further identified outbreak strains, including those associated with recent outbreaks linked to contaminated French-style cheese, Hispanic-style cheese, stone fruit, caramel apple, ice cream, and packaged leafy green salad, as belonging to major clonal groups. We further developed lineage-specific cgMLST schemes, which can include accessory genes when core genomes do not possess sufficient diversity, and this provided additional resolution over species-specific cgMLST. Analyses of isolates from different common-source listeriosis outbreaks revealed various degrees of diversity, indicating that the numbers of allelic differences should always be combined with cgMLST clustering and epidemiological evidence to define a listeriosis outbreak.

IMPORTANCE:

Classic multilocus sequence typing (MLST) schemes targeting internal fragments of 6 to 8 genes that define clonal complexes or epidemic clones have been widely employed to study L. monocytogenes biodiversity and its relation to pathogenicity potential and epidemiology. We demonstrated that core genome MLST schemes can be used for the simultaneous identification of clonal groups and the differentiation of individual outbreak strains and epidemiologically unrelated strains of the same clonal group. We further developed lineage-specific cgMLST schemes that targeted more genomic regions than the species-specific cgMLST schemes. Our data revealed the genome-level diversity of clonal groups defined by classic MLST schemes. Our identification of U.S. and international outbreaks caused by major clonal groups can contribute to further understanding of the global epidemiology of L. monocytogenes.

PMID:
27520821
PMCID:
PMC5068157
DOI:
10.1128/AEM.01532-16
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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