Thermophilic Campylobacter species colonize the intestine of agricultural and domestic animals commensally but cause severe gastroenteritis in humans. In contrast to other enteropathogenic bacteria, Campylobacter has been considered to be non-glycolytic, a metabolic property originally used for their taxonomic classification. Contrary to this dogma, we demonstrate that several Campylobacter coli strains are able to utilize glucose as a growth substrate. Isotopologue profiling experiments with (13) C-labeled glucose suggested that these strains catabolize glucose via the pentose phosphate and Entner-Doudoroff (ED) pathways and use glucose efficiently for de novo synthesis of amino acids and cell surface carbohydrates. Whole genome sequencing of glycolytic C.?coli isolates identified a genomic island located within a ribosomal RNA gene cluster that encodes for all ED pathway enzymes and a glucose permease. We could show in vitro that a non-glycolytic C.?coli strain could acquire glycolytic activity through natural transformation with chromosomal DNA of C.?coli and C.?jejuni subsp. doylei strains possessing the ED pathway encoding plasticity region. These results reveal for the first time the ability of a Campylobacter species to catabolize glucose and provide new insights into how genetic macrodiversity through intra- and interspecies gene transfer expand the metabolic capacity of this food-borne pathogen. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Journal: Molecular microbiology