Whole genome sequencing (WGS) can elucidate Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) transmission patterns but more data is needed to guide its use in high-burden settings. In a household-based TB transmissibility study in Peru, we identified a large MIRU-VNTR Mtb cluster (148 isolates) with a range of resistance phenotypes, and studied host and bacterial factors contributing to its spread. WGS was performed on 61 of the 148 isolates. We compared transmission link inference using epidemiological or genomic data and estimated the dates of emergence of the cluster and antimicrobial drug resistance (DR) acquisition events by generating a time-calibrated phylogeny. Using a set of 12,032 public Mtb genomes, we determined bacterial factors characterizing this cluster and under positive selection in other Mtb lineages. Four of the 61 isolates were distantly related and the remaining 57 isolates diverged ca. 1968 (95%HPD: 1945-1985). Isoniazid resistance arose once and rifampin resistance emerged subsequently at least three times. Emergence of other DR types occurred as recently as within the last year of sampling. We identified five cluster-defining SNPs potentially contributing to transmissibility. In conclusion, clusters (as defined by MIRU-VNTR typing) may be circulating for decades in a high-burden setting. WGS allows for an enhanced understanding of transmission, drug resistance, and bacterial fitness factors.
Journal: Scientific reports