July 7, 2019  |  

Genomic epidemiology of the Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreaks in Europe, 2011.

The degree to which molecular epidemiology reveals information about the sources and transmission patterns of an outbreak depends on the resolution of the technology used and the samples studied. Isolates of Escherichia coli O104:H4 from the outbreak centered in Germany in May-July 2011, and the much smaller outbreak in southwest France in June 2011, were indistinguishable by standard tests. We report a molecular epidemiological analysis using multiplatform whole-genome sequencing and analysis of multiple isolates from the German and French outbreaks. Isolates from the German outbreak showed remarkably little diversity, with only two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) found in isolates from four individuals. Surprisingly, we found much greater diversity (19 SNPs) in isolates from seven individuals infected in the French outbreak. The German isolates form a clade within the more diverse French outbreak strains. Moreover, five isolates derived from a single infected individual from the French outbreak had extremely limited diversity. The striking difference in diversity between the German and French outbreak samples is consistent with several hypotheses, including a bottleneck that purged diversity in the German isolates, variation in mutation rates in the two E. coli outbreak populations, or uneven distribution of diversity in the seed populations that led to each outbreak.


July 7, 2019  |  

Real-time sequencing.

This month’s Genome Watch describes the impact of next-generation sequencing on the ‘real-time’ analysis of pathogen genomes during outbreaks.


July 7, 2019  |  

Spike gene deletion quasispecies in serum of patient with acute MERS-CoV infection.

The spike glycoprotein of the Middle East respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) facilitates receptor binding and cell entry. During investigation of a multi-facility outbreak of MERS-CoV in Taif, Saudi Arabia, we identified a mixed population of wild-type and variant sequences with a large 530 nucleotide deletion in the spike gene from the serum of one patient. The out of frame deletion predicted loss of most of the S2 subunit of the spike protein leaving the S1 subunit with an intact receptor binding domain. This finding documents human infection with a novel genetic variant of MERS-CoV present as a quasispecies. J. Med. Virol. 89:542-545, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


July 7, 2019  |  

Whole genome and core genome multilocus sequence typing and single nucleotide polymorphism analyses of Listeria monocytogenes associated with an outbreak linked to cheese, United States, 2013.

Epidemiological findings of a listeriosis outbreak in 2013 implicated Hispanic-style cheese produced by Company A, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) were performed on clinical isolates and representative isolates collected from Company A cheese and environmental samples during the investigation. The results strengthened the evidence for cheese as the vehicle. Surveillance sampling and WGS three months later revealed that the equipment purchased by Company B from Company A yielded an environmental isolate highly similar to all outbreak isolates. The whole genome and core genome multilocus sequence typing and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analyses were compared to demonstrate the maximum discriminatory power obtained by using multiple analyses, which were needed to differentiate outbreak-associated isolates from a PFGE-indistinguishable isolate collected in a non-implicated food source in 2012. This unrelated isolate differed from the outbreak isolates by only 7 to 14 SNPs, and as a result, minimum spanning tree by the whole genome analyses and certain variant calling approach and phylogenetic algorithm for core genome-based analyses could not provide the differentiation between unrelated isolates. Our data also suggest that SNP/allele counts should always be combined with WGS clustering generated by phylogenetically meaningful algorithms on sufficient number of isolates, and SNP/allele threshold alone is not sufficient evidence to delineate an outbreak. The putative prophages were conserved across all the outbreak isolates. All outbreak isolates belonged to clonal complex 5 and serotype 1/2b, had an identical inlA sequence, which did not have premature stop codons.IMPORTANCE In this outbreak, multiple analytical approaches were used for maximum discriminatory power. A PFGE-matched, epidemiologically unrelated isolate had high genetic similarity to the outbreak-associated isolates, with as few as only 7 SNP differences. Therefore, the SNP/allele threshold should not be used as the only evidence to define the scope of an outbreak. It is critical that the SNP/allele counts be complemented by WGS clustering generated by phylogenetically meaningful algorithms to distinguish outbreak-associated isolates from epidemiologically unrelated isolates. Careful selection of a variant calling approach and phylogenetic algorithm is critical for core genome-based analyses. The whole genome-based analyses were able to construct the highly resolved phylogeny needed to support the findings of the outbreak investigation. Ultimately, epidemiologic evidence and multiple WGS analyses should be combined to increase the confidence in outbreak investigations. Copyright © 2017 Chen et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

2015 epidemic of severe Streptococcus agalactiae sequence type 283 infections in Singapore associated with the consumption of raw freshwater fish: a detailed analysis of clinical, epidemiological, and bacterial sequencing data.

Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) has not been described as a foodborne pathogen. However, in 2015, a large outbreak of severe invasive sequence type (ST) 283 GBS infections in adults epidemiologically linked to the consumption of raw freshwater fish occurred in Singapore. We attempted to determine the scale of the outbreak, define the clinical spectrum of disease, and link the outbreak to contaminated fish.Time-series analysis was performed on microbiology laboratory data. Food handlers and fishmongers were screened for enteric carriage of GBS. A retrospective cohort study was conducted to assess differences in demographic and clinical characteristics of patients with invasive ST283 and non-ST283 infections. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on human and fish ST283 isolates from Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong.The outbreak was estimated to have started in late January 2015. Within the study cohort of 408 patients, ST283 accounted for 35.8% of cases. Patients with ST283 infection were younger and had fewer comorbidities but were more likely to develop meningoencephalitis, septic arthritis, and spinal infection. Of 82 food handlers and fishmongers screened, none carried ST283. Culture of 43 fish samples yielded 13 ST283-positive samples. Phylogenomic analysis of 161 ST283 isolates from humans and fish revealed they formed a tight clade distinguished by 93 single-nucleotide polymorphisms.ST283 is a zoonotic GBS clone associated with farmed freshwater fish, capable of causing severe disease in humans. It caused a large foodborne outbreak in Singapore and poses both a regional and potentially more widespread threat.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequences of three outbreak-associated Legionella pneumophila isolates.

We report here the complete genome sequences of three Legionella pneumophila isolates that are associated with a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York in 2012. Two clinical isolates (D7630 and D7632) and one environmental isolate (D7631) were recovered from this outbreak. A single isolate-specific virulence gene was found in D7632. These isolates were included in a large study evaluating the genomic resolution of various bioinformatics approaches for L. pneumophila serogroup 1 isolates. Copyright © 2016 Morrison et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequences of six Legionella pneumophila isolates from two collocated outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in 2005 and 2008 in Sarpsborg/Fredrikstad, Norway.

Here, we report the complete genome sequences of Legionella pneumophila isolates from two collocated outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in 2005 and 2008 in Sarpsborg/Fredrikstad, Norway. One clinical and two environmental isolates were sequenced from each outbreak. The genome of all six isolates consisted of a 3.36 Mb-chromosome, while the 2005 genomes featured an additional 68 kb-episome sharing high sequence similarity with the L. pneumophila Lens plasmid. All six genomes contained multiple mobile genetic elements including novel combinations of type-IVA secretion systems. A comparative genomics study will be launched to resolve the genetic relationship between the L. pneumophila isolates. Copyright © 2016 Dybwad et al.


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