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Microbiology. 1997 Jun;143 ( Pt 6):2039-46.

The genetic structure of Escherichia coli populations in feral house mice.

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Division of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.


Escherichia coli was isolated from feral house mice (Mus domesticus) during the course of a mouse plague in the state of Victoria, Australia. Two farms were sampled over a period of 7 months and a total of 447 isolates were collected. The isolates were characterized using the techniques of randomly amplified polymorphic DNA and multi-locus enzyme electrophoresis. The mean genetic diversity of this E. coli population (H = 0.24) was found to be substantially lower than the diversity of an E. col population reported elsewhere for a single human host. Analysis of the allozyme data revealed that there were significant differences in the relative abundance of genotypes between the two localities sampled and among sample dates. Overall, however, spatial and temporal effects accounted for less than 5% of the genotypic diversity. Allele frequencies and the relative abundance of the more common genotypes did not differ between male and female hosts. The number of genotypes and genotype diversity increased as the age of the host increased, suggesting that the mice are continuing to acquire new E. coli clones throughout their life. The frequency of some alleles changed with respect to host age, which indicates that clone acquisition may not be a random process. It is argued that the low level of genetic diversity observed in this population of E. coli reflects the boom and bust nature of mouse population density in this region of Australia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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