July 19, 2019  |  

The origin of the Haitian cholera outbreak strain.

Although cholera has been present in Latin America since 1991, it had not been epidemic in Haiti for at least 100 years. Recently, however, there has been a severe outbreak of cholera in Haiti.We used third-generation single-molecule real-time DNA sequencing to determine the genome sequences of 2 clinical Vibrio cholerae isolates from the current outbreak in Haiti, 1 strain that caused cholera in Latin America in 1991, and 2 strains isolated in South Asia in 2002 and 2008. Using primary sequence data, we compared the genomes of these 5 strains and a set of previously obtained partial genomic sequences of 23 diverse strains of V. cholerae to assess the likely origin of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.Both single-nucleotide variations and the presence and structure of hypervariable chromosomal elements indicate that there is a close relationship between the Haitian isolates and variant V. cholerae El Tor O1 strains isolated in Bangladesh in 2002 and 2008. In contrast, analysis of genomic variation of the Haitian isolates reveals a more distant relationship with circulating South American isolates.The Haitian epidemic is probably the result of the introduction, through human activity, of a V. cholerae strain from a distant geographic source. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.).


July 19, 2019  |  

Evolutionary dynamics of Vibrio cholerae O1 following a single-source introduction to Haiti.

Prior to the epidemic that emerged in Haiti in October of 2010, cholera had not been documented in this country. After its introduction, a strain of Vibrio cholerae O1 spread rapidly throughout Haiti, where it caused over 600,000 cases of disease and >7,500 deaths in the first two years of the epidemic. We applied whole-genome sequencing to a temporal series of V. cholerae isolates from Haiti to gain insight into the mode and tempo of evolution in this isolated population of V. cholerae O1. Phylogenetic and Bayesian analyses supported the hypothesis that all isolates in the sample set diverged from a common ancestor within a time frame that is consistent with epidemiological observations. A pangenome analysis showed nearly homogeneous genomic content, with no evidence of gene acquisition among Haiti isolates. Nine nearly closed genomes assembled from continuous-long-read data showed evidence of genome rearrangements and supported the observation of no gene acquisition among isolates. Thus, intrinsic mutational processes can account for virtually all of the observed genetic polymorphism, with no demonstrable contribution from horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Consistent with this, the 12 Haiti isolates tested by laboratory HGT assays were severely impaired for transformation, although unlike previously characterized noncompetent V. cholerae isolates, each expressed hapR and possessed a functional quorum-sensing system. Continued monitoring of V. cholerae in Haiti will illuminate the processes influencing the origin and fate of genome variants, which will facilitate interpretation of genetic variation in future epidemics.Vibrio cholerae is the cause of substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide, with over three million cases of disease each year. An understanding of the mode and rate of evolutionary change is critical for proper interpretation of genome sequence data and attribution of outbreak sources. The Haiti epidemic provides an unprecedented opportunity to study an isolated, single-source outbreak of Vibrio cholerae O1 over an established time frame. By using multiple approaches to assay genetic variation, we found no evidence that the Haiti strain has acquired any genes by horizontal gene transfer, an observation that led us to discover that it is also poorly transformable. We have found no evidence that environmental strains have played a role in the evolution of the outbreak strain.


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  |  

Exception to the rule: Genomic characterization of naturally occurring unusual Vibrio cholerae strains with a single chromosome.

The genetic make-up of most bacteria is encoded in a single chromosome while about 10% have more than one chromosome. Among these, Vibrio cholerae, with two chromosomes, has served as a model system to study various aspects of chromosome maintenance, mainly replication, and faithful partitioning of multipartite genomes. Here, we describe the genomic characterization of strains that are an exception to the two chromosome rules: naturally occurring single-chromosome V. cholerae. Whole genome sequence analyses of NSCV1 and NSCV2 (natural single-chromosome vibrio) revealed that the Chr1 and Chr2 fusion junctions contain prophages, IS elements, and direct repeats, in addition to large-scale chromosomal rearrangements such as inversions, insertions, and long tandem repeats elsewhere in the chromosome compared to prototypical two chromosome V. cholerae genomes. Many of the known cholera virulence factors are absent. The two origins of replication and associated genes are generally intact with synonymous mutations in some genes, as are recA and mismatch repair (MMR) genes dam, mutH, and mutL; MutS function is probably impaired in NSCV2. These strains are ideal tools for studying mechanistic aspects of maintenance of chromosomes with multiple origins and other rearrangements and the biological, functional, and evolutionary significance of multipartite genome architecture in general.


July 7, 2019  |  

Characterization of VCC-1, a novel ambler class A carbapenemase from Vibrio cholerae isolated from imported retail shrimp sold in Canada.

One of the core goals of the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) is to monitor major meat commodities for antimicrobial resistance. Targeted studies with methodologies based on core surveillance protocols are used to examine other foods, e.g., seafood, for antimicrobial resistance to detect resistances of concern to public health. Here we report the discovery of a novel Ambler class A carbapenemase that was identified in a nontoxigenic strain of Vibrio cholerae (N14-02106) isolated from shrimp that was sold for human consumption in Canada. V. cholerae N14-02106 was resistant to penicillins, carbapenems, and monobactam antibiotics; however, PCR did not detect common ß-lactamases. Bioinformatic analysis of the whole-genome sequence of V. cholerae N14-02106 revealed on the large chromosome a novel carbapenemase (referred to here as VCC-1, for Vibrio cholerae carbapenemase 1) with sequence similarity to class A enzymes. Two copies of blaVCC-1 separated and flanked by ISVch9 (i.e., 3 copies of ISVch9) were found in an acquired 8.5-kb region inserted into a VrgG family protein gene. Cloned blaVCC-1 conferred a ß-lactam resistance profile similar to that in V. cholerae N14-02106 when it was transformed into a susceptible laboratory strain of Escherichia coli. Purified VCC-1 was found to hydrolyze penicillins, 1st-generation cephalosporins, aztreonam, and carbapenems, whereas 2nd- and 3rd-generation cephalosporins were poor substrates. Using nitrocefin as a reporter substrate, VCC-1 was moderately inhibited by clavulanic acid and tazobactam but not EDTA. In this report, we present the discovery of a novel class A carbapenemase from the food supply. Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Non-toxigenic environmental Vibrio cholerae O1 strain from Haiti provides evidence of pre-pandemic cholera in Hispaniola.

Vibrio cholerae is ubiquitous in aquatic environments, with environmental toxigenic V. cholerae O1 strains serving as a source for recurrent cholera epidemics and pandemic disease. However, a number of questions remain about long-term survival and evolution of V. cholerae strains within these aquatic environmental reservoirs. Through monitoring of the Haitian aquatic environment following the 2010 cholera epidemic, we isolated two novel non-toxigenic (ctxA/B-negative) Vibrio cholerae O1. These two isolates underwent whole-genome sequencing and were investigated through comparative genomics and Bayesian coalescent analysis. These isolates cluster in the evolutionary tree with strains responsible for clinical cholera, possessing genomic components of 6(th) and 7(th) pandemic lineages, and diverge from “modern” cholera strains around 1548 C.E. [95% HPD: 1532-1555]. Vibrio Pathogenicity Island (VPI)-1 was present; however, SXT/R391-family ICE and VPI-2 were absent. Rugose phenotype conversion and vibriophage resistance evidenced adaption for persistence in aquatic environments. The identification of V. cholerae O1 strains in the Haitian environment, which predate the first reported cholera pandemic in 1817, broadens our understanding of the history of pandemics. It also raises the possibility that these and similar environmental strains could acquire virulence genes from the 2010 Haitian epidemic clone, including the cholera toxin producing CTX?.


July 7, 2019  |  

Origins of the current seventh cholera pandemic.

Vibrio cholerae has caused seven cholera pandemics since 1817, imposing terror on much of the world, but bacterial strains are currently only available for the sixth and seventh pandemics. The El Tor biotype seventh pandemic began in 1961 in Indonesia, but did not originate directly from the classical biotype sixth-pandemic strain. Previous studies focused mainly on the spread of the seventh pandemic after 1970. Here, we analyze in unprecedented detail the origin, evolution, and transition to pandemicity of the seventh-pandemic strain. We used high-resolution comparative genomic analysis of strains collected from 1930 to 1964, covering the evolution from the first available El Tor biotype strain to the start of the seventh pandemic. We define six stages leading to the pandemic strain and reveal all key events. The seventh pandemic originated from a nonpathogenic strain in the Middle East, first observed in 1897. It subsequently underwent explosive diversification, including the spawning of the pandemic lineage. This rapid diversification suggests that, when first observed, the strain had only recently arrived in the Middle East, possibly from the Asian homeland of cholera. The lineage migrated to Makassar, Indonesia, where it gained the important virulence-associated elements Vibrio seventh pandemic island I (VSP-I), VSP-II, and El Tor type cholera toxin prophage by 1954, and it then became pandemic in 1961 after only 12 additional mutations. Our data indicate that specific niches in the Middle East and Makassar were important in generating the pandemic strain by providing gene sources and the driving forces for genetic events.


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