Clostridioides difficile infections (CDI) have emerged over the past decade causing symptoms that range from mild, antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) to life-threatening toxic megacolon. In this study, we describe a multiple and isochronal (mixed) CDI caused by the isolates DSM 27638, DSM 27639 and DSM 27640 that already initially showed different morphotypes on solid media.The three isolates belonging to the ribotypes (RT) 012 (DSM 27639) and 027 (DSM 27638 and DSM 27640) were phenotypically characterized and high quality closed genome sequences were generated. The genomes were compared with seven reference strains including three strains of the RT 027, two of the RT 017, and one of the RT 078 as well as a multi-resistant RT 012 strain. The analysis of horizontal gene transfer events revealed gene acquisition incidents that sort the strains within the time line of the spread of their RTs within Germany. We could show as well that horizontal gene transfer between the members of different RTs occurred within this multiple infection. In addition, acquisition and exchange of virulence-related features including antibiotic resistance genes were observed. Analysis of the two genomes assigned to RT 027 revealed three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and apparently a regional genome modification within the flagellar switch that regulates the fli operon.Our findings show that (i) evolutionary events based on horizontal gene transfer occur within an ongoing CDI and contribute to the adaptation of the species by the introduction of new genes into the genomes, (ii) within a multiple infection of a single patient the exchange of genetic material was responsible for a much higher genome variation than the observed SNPs.
Journal: BMC genomics