Classifications of the Campylobacter fetus subspecies fetus and venerealis were first described in 1959 and were based on the source of isolation (intestinal versus genital) and the ability of the strains to proliferate in the genital tract of cows. Two phenotypic assays (1% glycine tolerance and H2S production) were described to differentiate the subspecies. Multiple molecular assays have been applied to differentiate the C. fetus subspecies, but none of these tests is consistent with the phenotypic identification methods. In this study, we defined the core genome and accessory genes of C. fetus, which are based on the closed genomes of five C. fetus strains. Phylogenetic analysis of the core genomes of 23 C. fetus strains of the two subspecies showed a division into two clusters. The phylogenetic core genome clusters were not consistent with the phenotypic classifications of the C. fetus subspecies. However, they were consistent with the molecular characteristics of the strains, which were determined by multilocus sequence typing, sap typing, and the presence/absence of insertion sequences and a type I restriction modification system. The similarity of the genome characteristics of three of the phenotypically defined C. fetus subsp. fetus strains to C. fetus subsp. venerealis strains, when considering the core genome and accessory genes, requires a critical evaluation of the clinical relevance of C. fetus subspecies identification by phenotypic assays. Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
Journal: Journal of clinical microbiology