The natural environment serves as a reservoir of opportunistic pathogens. A well-established method for studying the epidemiology of such opportunists is multilocus sequence typing, which in many cases has defined strains predisposed to causing infection. Burkholderia multivorans is an important pathogen in people with cystic fibrosis (CF) and its epidemiology suggests that strains are acquired from non-human sources such as the natural environment. This raises the central question of whether the isolation source (CF or environment) or the multilocus sequence type (ST) of B. multivorans better predicts their genomic content and functionality. We identified four pairs of B. multivorans isolates, representing distinct STs and consisting of one CF and one environmental isolate each. All genomes were sequenced using the PacBio SMRT sequencing technology, which resulted in eight high-quality B. multivorans genome assemblies. The present study demonstrated that the genomic structure of the examined B. multivorans STs is highly conserved and that the B. multivorans genomic lineages are defined by their ST. Orthologous protein families were not uniformly distributed among chromosomes, with core orthologs being enriched on the primary chromosome and ST-specific orthologs being enriched on the second and third chromosome. The ST-specific orthologs were enriched in genes involved in defense mechanisms and secondary metabolism, corroborating the strain-specificity of these virulence characteristics. Finally, the same B. multivorans genomic lineages occur in both CF and environmental samples and on different continents, demonstrating their ubiquity and evolutionary persistence.
Journal: PloS one