The bacterial species Moraxella catarrhalishas been hypothesized as being composed of two distinct lineages (referred to as the seroresistant [SR] and serosensitive [SS]) with separate evolutionary histories based on several molecular typing methods, whereas 16S ribotyping has suggested an additional split within the SS lineage. Previously, we characterized whole-genome sequences of 12 SR-lineage isolates, which revealed a relatively small supragenome when compared with other opportunistic nasopharyngeal pathogens, suggestive of a relatively short evolutionary history. Here, we performed whole-genome sequencing on 18 strains from both ribotypes of the SS lineage, an additional SR strain, as well as four previously identified highly divergent strains based on multilocus sequence typing analyses. All 35 strains were subjected to a battery of comparative genomic analyses which clearly show that there are three lineages-the SR, SS, and the divergent. The SR and SS lineages are closely related, but distinct from each other based on three different methods of comparison: Allelic differences observed among core genes; possession of lineage-specific sets of core and distributed genes; and by an alignment of concatenated core sequences irrespective of gene annotation. All these methods show that the SS lineage has much longer interstrain branches than the SR lineage indicating that this lineage has likely been evolving either longer or faster than the SR lineage. There is evidence of extensive horizontal gene transfer (HGT) within both of these lineages, and to a lesser degree between them. In particular, we identified very high rates of HGT between these two lineages for ß-lactamase genes. The four divergent strains aresui generis, being much more distantly related to both the SR and SS groups than these other two groups are to each other. Based on average nucleotide identities, gene content, GC content, and genome size, this group could be considered as a separate taxonomic group. The SR and SS lineages, although distinct, clearly form a single species based on multiple criteria including a large common core genome, average nucleotide identity values, GC content, and genome size. Although neither of these lineages arose from within the other based on phylogenetic analyses, the question of how and when these lineages split and then subsequently reunited in the human nasopharynx is explored. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Journal: Genome biology and evolution