Dr Arnoud van Vliet

Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Microbiology


University roles and responsibilities

  • Chair of MSc Veterinary Microbiology Board of Studies
  • Postgraduate Research Director


    Research interests


    Postgraduate research supervision



    Wellington Owusu, Arnoud H M van Vliet, Natalie E Riddell, Graham Stewart, Winifred C Akwani, Sherihane Aryeetey, Rejoice Agyeiwaa Arthur, Augustina Angelina Sylverken, Suzanne M Hingley-Wilson (2023)A multiplex PCR assay for the differentiation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex reveals high rates of mixed-lineage tuberculosis infections among patients in Ghana, In: Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology131125079 Frontiers

    In low-resource settings with high tuberculosis (TB) burdens, lack of rapid diagnostic methods for detection and differentiation of complex (MTBC) is a major challenge affecting TB management. This study utilized comparative genomic analyses of MTBC lineages; , Lineages 5/6 and to identify lineage-specific genes. Primers were designed for the development of a Multiplex PCR assay which was successful in differentiating the MTBC lineages. There was no cross-reaction with other respiratory pathogens tested. Validation of the assay using clinical samples was performed with sputum DNA extracts from 341 clinically confirmed active TB patients. It was observed that 24.9% of cases were caused by , while L5 & L6 reported 9.0% and 14.4%, respectively. infection was the least frequently detected lineage with 1.8%. Also, 27.0% and 17.0% of the cases were PCR negative and unspeciated, respectively. However, mixed-lineage TB infections were recorded at a surprising 5.9%. This multiplex PCR assay will allow speciation of MTBC lineages in low-resource regions, providing rapid differentiation of TB infections to select appropriate medication at the earliest possible time point. It will also be useful in epidemiological surveillance studies providing reliable information on the prevalence of TB lineages as well as identifying difficult to treat cases of mixed-lineage tuberculosis infections.

    Emmanuelle Boix, Louis Coroller, Olivier Couvert, Stella Planchon, Arnoud H.M. van Vliet, Jason Brunt, Michael W. Peck, Christine Rasetti-Escargueil, Emmanuel Lemichez, Michel R. Popoff, Stéphane André (2022)Synergistic interaction between pH and NaCl in the limits of germination and outgrowth of Clostridium sporogenes and Group I Clostridium botulinum vegetative cells and spores after heat treatment, In: Food microbiology106104055pp. 104055-104055 Elsevier Ltd

    Group I Clostridium botulinum and Clostridium sporogenes are physiologically and genetically closely related. Both are widely distributed in the environment and can cause foodborne botulism. In this work, a physiological study was conducted with 37 isolates from spoiled canned food and five referenced strains of C. sporogenes (three isolates) and Group I C. botulinum (two isolates). Growth limits of vegetative cells were established as a function of pH and NaCl concentration in PYG modified medium (PYGm) at 30 °C for 48 days. The heat resistance of the spores was studied for 2 min and 10 min at 102 °C and 110 °C. This physiological study (pH, NaCl growth limits and heat resistance) allowed the selection of 14 isolates of C. sporogenes (twelve isolates) and Group I C. botulinum (two isolates) representative of the diversity found. This panel of 14 selected isolates (11 isolated from spoiled canned food and three reference strains), were whole genome sequenced, but no association of physiological and genetic characteristics could be detected. Finally, we studied the ability of spores to germinate and grow from 5 isolates (four C. sporogenes and one Group I C. botulinum), under stress conditions generated by pH and NaCl following a low intensity heat treatment. The accumulation of these 3 stresses creates synergies that will strongly reduce the probability of spore growth in pH and salt conditions where they usually proliferate. The effect is progressive as the conditions become drastic: the number of decimal reduction observed increases translating a probability of growth which decreases. This study provides a better understanding of the behaviour of C. sporogenes and Group I C. botulinum isolates and shows how the combination of pH, NaCl and heat treatment can help prevent or minimise foodborne botulism outbreaks. •Individual isolates of C. sporogenes and C. botulinum grew at pH ≥ 4.5 and NaCl ≤11.5%.•No correlation between physiological and genetic characteristics of 42 isolates.•pH and NaCl growth limits differed between vegetative cells and spores.•Combined low heat treatment, pH 4.9 and NaCl 4% prevented growth.

    Ayanna Glaize, Eduardo Gutierrez-Rodriguez, Irene Hanning, Sandra Diaz-Sanchez, Chris Gunter, Arnoud van Vliet, Wes Watson, Siddhartha Thakur (2019)Transmission of antimicrobial resistant non-O157 Escherichia coli at the interface of animal-fresh produce in sustainable farming environments, In: International Journal of Food Microbiology319108472 Elsevier

    The interaction of typical host adapted enteric bacterial pathogens with fresh produce grown in fields is complex. These interactions can be more pronounced in co-managed or sustainable farms where animal operations are, by design, close to fresh produce, and growers frequently move between the two production environments. The primary objectives of this study were to 1) determine the transmission of STEC or enteric pathogens from small and large animal herds or operations to fresh produce on sustainable farms in TN and NC, 2) identify the possible sources that impact transmission of AMR E. coli, specifically STEC on these systems, and 3) WGS to characterize recovered E. coli from these sources. Samples were collected from raw and composted manure, environment, and produce sources. The serotype, virulence, and genotypic resistance profile were determined using the assembled genome sequences sequenced by Illumina technology. Broth microdilution was used to determine the antimicrobial susceptibility of each isolate against a panel of fourteen antimicrobials. The prevalence of E. coli increased during the summer season for all sources tested. ParSNP trees generated demonstrated that the transmission of AMR E. coli is occurring between animal feeding operations and fresh produce. Ten isolates were identified as serotype O45, a serotype that is associated with the “Big Six” group that is frequently linked with foodborne outbreaks caused by non-O157 E. coli. However, these isolates did not possess the stx gene. The highest frequency of resistance was detected against streptomycin (n=225), ampicillin (n=190) and sulfisoxazole FIS (n=140). A total of 35 (13.7%) isolates from two TN farms were positive for the blaCMY (n=5) and blaTEM (n=32) genes. The results of this study show the potential of AMR E. coli transmission between animal feeding operations and fresh produce, and more studies are recommended to study this interaction and prevent dissemination in sustainable farming systems.

    Ayanna Glaize, Dawn Hull, Luke Raymond, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Eduardo Gutierrez-Rodriguez, Siddhartha Thakur, Arnoud Van Vliet (2022)Tracking the Transmission of Antimicrobial-Resistant Non-O157 Escherichia coli and Salmonella Isolates at the Interface of Food Animals and Fresh Produce from Agriculture Operations Using Whole-Genome Sequencing, In: Foodborne pathogens and disease19(9)pp. 637-647 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc

    An increasing number of outbreaks are caused by foodborne pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella, which often harbor antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. We previously demonstrated the transmission of pathogens from animal operations to produce fields on sustainable farms, which illustrated an urgent need to develop and implement novel prevention methods and remediation practices such as the vegetative buffer zone (VBZ) to prevent this movement. The focus of this study was to use whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to characterize the AMR, virulence, and single-nucleotide polymorphism profile of 15 Salmonella and 128 E. coli isolates collected from small-scale dairy and poultry farms on a research station in North Carolina. Phenotypically, seven E. coli and three Salmonella isolates displayed resistance to antibiotics such as tetracycline (n = 4), ampicillin (n = 4), nalidixic acid (n = 3), chloramphenicol (n = 2), sulfisoxazole (n = 1), and streptomycin (n = 1). A single E. coli isolate was found to be resistant to five different antibiotic class types and possessed the bla(TEM-150) resistance gene. Virulence genes that facilitate toxin production and cell invasion were identified. Mauve analysis of the E. coli isolates identified seven clusters (dairy-six and poultry-one) indicating that transmission is occurring from animal operations to fresh produce fields and the surrounding environment when the VBZ is denudated. This suggests that the VBZ is a useful barrier to reducing the transmission of enteric pathogens in agricultural systems. Our study demonstrates the prevalence of AMR and virulence genes on small-scale sustainable farms and highlights the advantage of using WGS to assess the impact of the VBZ to reduce the transmission of E. coli and Salmonella.

    Martha Betson, Allen Jethro I Alonte, Rico C Ancog, Angelou Marie O Aquino, Vicente Y Belizario, Jr, Anna Monica D Bordado, Jessica Clark, Ma Christina G Corales, Mary Grace Dacuma, Billy P Divina, Matthew A Dixon, Stephen A Gourley, Jasmine Renette D Jimenez, Ben P Jones, Sheina Macy P Manalo, Joaquin M Prada, Arnoud H M van Vliet, Kezia C L Whatley, Vachel Gay V Paller (2021)Zoonotic transmission of intestinal helminths in southeast Asia: Implications for control and elimination, In: Advances in Parasitology108pp. 47-131

    Intestinal helminths are extremely widespread and highly prevalent infections of humans, particularly in rural and poor urban areas of low and middle-income countries. These parasites have chronic and often insidious effects on human health and child development including abdominal problems, anaemia, stunting and wasting. Certain animals play a fundamental role in the transmission of many intestinal helminths to humans. However, the contribution of zoonotic transmission to the overall burden of human intestinal helminth infection and the relative importance of different animal reservoirs remains incomplete. Moreover, control programmes and transmission models for intestinal helminths often do not consider the role of zoonotic reservoirs of infection. Such reservoirs will become increasingly important as control is scaled up and there is a move towards interruption and even elimination of parasite transmission. With a focus on southeast Asia, and the Philippines in particular, this review summarises the major zoonotic intestinal helminths, risk factors for infection and highlights knowledge gaps related to their epidemiology and transmission. Various methodologies are discussed, including parasite genomics, mathematical modelling and socio-economic analysis, that could be employed to improve understanding of intestinal helminth spread, reservoir attribution and the burden associated with infection, as well as assess effectiveness of interventions. For sustainable control and ultimately elimination of intestinal helminths, there is a need to move beyond scheduled mass deworming and to consider animal and environmental reservoirs. A One Health approach to control of intestinal helminths is proposed, integrating interventions targeting humans, animals and the environment, including improved access to water, hygiene and sanitation. This will require coordination and collaboration across different sectors to achieve best health outcomes for all.

    WINIFRED CHIMHURUMNANYA AKWANI, ARNOUD VAN VLIET, Jordan Joel, Sonke Andres, Margo Diricks, Florian P Maurer, MARK CHAMBERS, SUZIE HINGLEY-WILSON (2022)The Use of Comparative Genomic Analysis for the Development of Subspecies-Specific PCR Assays for Mycobacterium abscessus, In: Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology.12816615 Frontiers Media

    Mycobacterium abscessus complex (MABC) is an important pathogen of immunocompromised patients. Accurate and rapid determination of MABC at the subspecies level is vital for optimal antibiotic therapy. Here we have used comparative genomics to design MABC subspecies-specific PCR assays. Analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms and core genome multilocus sequence typing showed clustering of genomes into three distinct clusters representing the MABC subspecies M. abscessus, M. bolletii and M. massiliense. Pangenome analysis of 318 MABC genomes from the three subspecies allowed for the identification of 15 MABC subspecies-specific genes. In silico testing of primer sets against 1,663 publicly available MABC genomes and 66 other closely related Mycobacterium genomes showed that all assays had >97% sensitivity and >98% specificity. Subsequent experimental validation of two subspecies-specific genes each showed the PCR assays worked well in individual and multiplex format with no false-positivity with 5 other mycobacteria of clinical importance. In conclusion, we have developed a rapid, accurate, multiplex PCR-assay for discriminating MABC subspecies that could improve their detection, diagnosis and inform correct treatment choice.

    Vathsala Mohan, Cristina D Cruz, Arnoud H M van Vliet, Andrew R Pitman, Sandra B Visnovsky, Lucia Rivas, Brent Gilpin, Graham C Fletcher, Arnoud Van Vliet (2021)Genomic diversity of Listeria monocytogenes isolates from seafood, horticulture and factory environments in New Zealand, In: International journal of food microbiology347109166pp. 109166-109166

    Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne human pathogen that causes systemic infection, fetal-placental infection in pregnant women causing abortion and stillbirth and meningoencephalitis in elderly and immunocompromised individuals. This study aimed to analyse L. monocytogenes from different sources from New Zealand (NZ) and to compare them with international strains. We used pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) to study the population structure of the NZ L. monocytogenes isolates and their relationship with the international strains. The NZ isolates formed unique clusters in PFGE, MLST and whole-genome SNP comparisons compared to the international isolates for which data were available. PFGE identified 31 AscI and 29 ApaI PFGE patterns with indistinguishable pulsotypes being present in seafood, horticultural products and environmental samples. Apart from the Asc0002:Apa0002 pulsotype which was distributed across different sources, other pulsotypes were site or factory associated. Whole-genome analysis of 200 randomly selected L. monocytogenes isolates revealed that lineage II dominated the NZ L. monocytogenes populations. MLST comparison of international and NZ isolates with lineage II accounted for 89% (177 of 200) of the total L. monocytogenes population, while the international representation was 45.3% (1674 of 3473). Rarefaction analysis showed that sequence type richness was greater in NZ isolates compared to international trend, however, it should be noted that NZ isolates predominantly came from seafood, horticulture and their respective processing environments or factories, unlike international isolates where there was a good mixture of clinical, food and environmental isolates.

    Brian Gardner, Martha Betson, Mark A. Chambers, Francesca M. Contadini, Laura C. Gonzalez Villeta, Marwa M. Hassan, Roberto M. La Ragione, Joaquin M. Prada, Lorenzo A. Santorelli, Nick Selemetas, Mukunthan Tharmakulasingam, Arnoud H. M. Van Vliet, Inaki Deza-Cruz, Giovanni Lo Iacono (2023)Mapping the evidence of the effects of environmental factors on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the non-built environment: Protocol for a systematic evidence map, In: Environment International171107707 Elsevier

    Background Human, animal, and environmental health are increasingly threatened by the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. Inappropriate use of antibiotic treatments commonly contributes to this threat, but it is also becoming apparent that multiple, interconnected environmental factors can play a significant role. Thus, a One Health approach is required for a comprehensive understanding of the environmental dimensions of antibiotic resistance and inform science-based decisions and actions. The broad and multidisciplinary nature of the problem poses several open questions drawing upon a wide heterogeneous range of studies. Objective This study seeks to collect and catalogue the evidence of the potential effects of environmental factors on the abundance or detection of antibiotic resistance determinants in the outdoor environment, i.e., antibiotic resistant bacteria and mobile genetic elements carrying antibiotic resistance genes, and the effect on those caused by local environmental conditions of either natural or anthropogenic origin. Methods Here, we describe the protocol for a systematic evidence map to address this, which will be performed in adherence to best practice guidelines. We will search the literature from 1990 to present, using the following electronic databases: MEDLINE, Embase, and the Web of Science Core Collection as well as the grey literature. We shall include full-text, scientific articles published in English. Reviewers will work in pairs to screen title, abstract and keywords first and then full-text documents. Data extraction will adhere to a code book purposely designed. Risk of bias assessment will not be conducted as part of this SEM. We will combine tables, graphs, and other suitable visualisation techniques to compile a database i) of studies investigating the factors associated with the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the environment and ii) map the distribution, network, cross-disciplinarity, impact and trends in the literature.

    Francisco M. D. Evangelista, Arnoud H M van Vliet, Scott P. Lawton, Martha Betson (2022)A reverse vaccinology approach identifies putative vaccination targets in the zoonotic nematode Ascaris, In: Frontiers in Veterinary Science91014198 Frontiers Media

    Ascariasis is the most prevalent helminthic disease affecting both humans and pigs and is caused by the roundworms Ascaris lumbricoides and Ascaris suum. While preventive chemotherapy continues to be the most common control method, recent reports of anthelminthic resistance highlight the need for development of a vaccine against ascariasis. The aim of this study was to use a reverse vaccinology approach to identify potential vaccine candidates for Ascaris. Three Ascaris proteomes predicted from whole-genome sequences were analyzed. Candidate proteins were identified using open-access bioinformatic tools (e.g., Vacceed, VaxiJen, Bepipred 2.0) which test for different characteristics such as sub-cellular location, T-cell and B-cell molecular binding, antigenicity, allergenicity and phylogenetic relationship with other nematode proteins. From over 100,000 protein sequences analyzed, four transmembrane proteins were predicted to be non-allergen antigens and potential vaccine candidates. The four proteins are a Piezo protein, two voltage-dependent calcium channels and a protocadherin-like protein, are all expressed in either the muscle or ovaries of both Ascaris species, and all contained high affinity epitopes for T-cells and B-cells. The use of a reverse vaccinology approach allowed the prediction of four new potential vaccination targets against ascariasis in humans and pigs. These targets can now be further tested in in vitro and in vivo assays to prove efficacy in both pigs and humans.

    André Becker Simões Saidenberg, Arnoud H.M van Vliet, Paulo Eduardo Brandão, Lilian Rose Marques de Sá, Marcos Paulo Vieira Cunha, Roberto M La Ragione, Terezinha Knöbl (2020)Genomic characterization of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) of avian origin and rabbit ileal loop response; a pet macaw (Ara chloropterus) as a possible zoonotic reservoir, In: The Veterinary Quarterly40(1)pp. 331-341 Taylor & Francis

    Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) constitutes one of the main causes of mortality in children in low- to medium-income countries. Diverse animal species have been linked as reservoirs, including birds. The aim of this study was to describe the genomic and phylogenetic features of an EPEC recovered from a pet macaw and further characterizing the macro and microscopic lesion in a rabbit ileal loop experimental model. The isolate was whole-genome sequenced (WGS) obtaining its genotypic and phenotypic in silico characteristics and inoculated in a rabbit experimental model with subsequently evaluating the strain's pathogenicity by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and histopathology. The isolate was characterized as O109:H21-B1-ST40 typical EPEC, harboring several virulence factors of diarrheagenic E. coli. The macaw EPEC genome was located in a monophyletic clade of human and animal ST40 EPEC sequences. In vivo inoculation demonstrated severe hemorrhage with SEM and histopathological analysis confirming these lesions to be associated with intra-epithelial lymphocytes. Therefore, the isolate not only shared several genotypic and phylogenetic similarities with EPEC that affects humans and animals, but was able to induce severe tissue injury in a mammal model. These findings highlight the underrated role of pet birds as zoonotic reservoirs and the diversity in virulence factors being unraveled by new WGS studies.

    Anna Stedman, Arnoud van Vliet, Mark Chambers, Jorge Gutierrez (2020)Gut commensal bacteria show beneficial properties as wildlife probiotics, In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences New York Academy of Sciences

    Probiotics represent a non-invasive, environmentally-friendly alternative to reduce infectious diseases in wildlife species. Our aim was to evaluate the potential of typical gut commensals, such as lactic acid bacteria (LAB), as wildlife probiotics. The selected LAB were isolated from European badgers (Meles meles); a wildlife reservoir of bovine tuberculosis, and comprised four different genera: Enterococcus; Weissella; Pediococcus; and Lactobacillus. The enterococci displayed a phenotype and genotype that correlate with the production of antibacterial peptides and stimulation of antiviral responses. However, these isolates carry virulence and antibiotic resistance genes. Weissella showed some anti-mycobacterial activity due to their ability to produce lactate and ethanol. Interestingly, lactobacilli and pediococci modulated pro-inflammatory phagocytic responses that associate with protection against pathogens; and these responses agreed with the presence of immunomodulatory markers in their genomes. Although both lactobacilli and pediococci showed tolerance to antibiotics, this resistance was naturally acquired and almost all isolates possessed a strong phylogenetic relationship with isolates from food and healthy animals. Our results show that LAB display probiotic benefits that depend on the genera. Lactobacilli and pediococci are probably the most interesting candidates as probiotics against infectious diseases in wildlife because of their food-grade status and ability to modulate protective innate immune responses.

    Petra C. Fay, Najith Wijesiriwardana, Henry Munyanduki, Beatriz Sanz-Bernardo, Isabel Lewis, Ismar R. Haga, Katy Moffat, Arnoud H.M. van Vliet, Jayne Hope, Simon P. Graham, Philippa M. Beard (2022)The immune response to lumpy skin disease virus in cattle is influenced by inoculation route, In: Frontiers in immunology131051008pp. 1051008-1051008 Frontiers Media Sa

    Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) causes severe disease in cattle and water buffalo and is transmitted by hematophagous arthropod vectors. Detailed information of the adaptive and innate immune response to LSDV is limited, hampering the development of tools to control the disease. This study provides an in-depth analysis of the immune responses of calves experimentally inoculated with LSDV via either needle-inoculation or arthropod-inoculation using virus-positive Stomoxys calcitrans and Aedes aegypti vectors. Seven out of seventeen needle-inoculated calves (41%) developed clinical disease characterised by multifocal necrotic cutaneous nodules. In comparison 8/10 (80%) of the arthropod-inoculated calves developed clinical disease. A variable LSDV-specific IFN-gamma immune response was detected in the needle-inoculated calves from 5 days post inoculation (dpi) onwards, with no difference between clinical calves (developed cutaneous lesions) and nonclinical calves (did not develop cutaneous lesions). In contrast a robust and uniform cell-mediated immune response was detected in all eight clinical arthropod-inoculated calves, with little response detected in the two nonclinical arthropod-inoculated calves. Neutralising antibodies against LSDV were detected in all inoculated cattle from 5-7 dpi. Comparison of the production of anti-LSDV IgM and IgG antibodies revealed no difference between clinical and nonclinical needle-inoculated calves, however a strong IgM response was evident in the nonclinical arthropod-inoculated calves but absent in the clinical arthropod-inoculated calves. This suggests that early IgM production is a correlate of protection in LSD. This study presents the first evidence of differences in the immune response between clinical and nonclinical cattle and highlights the importance of using a relevant transmission model when studying LSD.

    Aurore C. Poirier, Dai Kuang, Bianca S. Siedler, Khushboo Borah, Jai W. Mehat, Jialin Liu, Cui Tai, Xiaoli Wang, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Wei Ma, David R. Jenkins, John Clark, Roberto M. La Ragione, Jieming Qu, Johnjoe McFadden (2022)Development of Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification Rapid Diagnostic Assays for the Detection of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Carbapenemase Genes in Clinical Samples, In: Frontiers in molecular biosciences8794961 Frontiers Media Sa

    Klebsiella pneumoniae is an important pathogenic bacterium commonly associated with human healthcare and community-acquired infections. In recent years, K. pneumoniae has become a significant threat to global public and veterinary health, because of its high rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Early diagnosis of K. pneumoniae infection and detection of any associated AMR would help to accelerate directed therapy and reduce the risk of the emergence of multidrug-resistant isolates. In this study, we identified three target genes (yhaI, epsL, and xcpW) common to K. pneumoniae isolates from both China and Europe and designed loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the detection of K. pneumoniae in clinical samples. We also designed LAMP assays for the detection of five AMR genes commonly associated with K. pneumoniae. The LAMP assays were validated on a total of 319 type reference strains and clinical isolates of diverse genetic backgrounds, in addition to 40 clinical human sputum samples, and were shown to be reliable, highly specific, and sensitive. For the K. pneumoniae-specific LAMP assay, the calculated sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values (comparison with culture and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry) were all 100% on clinical isolates and, respectively, of 100%, 91%, and 90%, and 100% when tested on clinical sputum samples, while being significantly faster than the reference methods. For the bla(KPC) and other carbapenemases' LAMP assays, the concordance between the LAMP results and the references methods (susceptibility tests) was 100%, on both pure cultures (n = 125) and clinical samples (n = 18). In conclusion, we developed highly sensitive and specific LAMP assays for the clinical identification of K. pneumoniae and detection of carbapenem resistance.

    Owen Higgins, MARWA M. HASSAN, Arnoud Van Vliet, Liam P. Burke, Alexandra Chueiri, Louise O'Connor, Dearbháile Morris, Terry J. Smith, Roberto Marcello La Ragione (2023)Rapid culture‐independent loop‐mediated isothermal amplification detection of antimicrobial resistance markers from environmental water samples, In: Microbial Biotechnology Wiley

    Environmental water is considered one of the main vehicles for the transmission of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), posing an increasing threat to humans and animals health. Continuous efforts are being made to eliminate AMR; however, the detection of AMR pathogens from water samples often requires at least one culture step, which is time-consuming and can limit sensitivity. In this study, we employed comparative genomics to identify the prevalence of AMR genes within among: Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, Salmonella enterica and Acinetobacter, using publicly available genomes. The mcr-1, blaKPC (KPC-1 to KPC-4 alleles), blaOXA-48, blaOXA-23 and blaVIM (VIM-1 and VIM-2 alleles) genes are of great medical and veterinary significance, thus were selected as targets for the development of isothermal loop-mediated amplification (LAMP) detection assays. We also developed a rapid and sensitive sample preparation method for an integrated culture-independent LAMP-based detection from water samples. The developed assays successfully detected the five AMR gene markers from pond water within 1 h and were 100% sensitive and specific with a detection limit of 0.0625 μg/mL and 10 cfu/mL for genomic DNA and spiked bacterial cells, respectively. The integrated detection can be easily implemented in resource-limited areas to enhance One Health AMR surveillances and improve diagnostics.

    Fatemah Al-Kandari, Rabeah Al-Temaimi, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Martin J. Woodward (2019)Thymol tolerance in Escherichia coli induces morphological, metabolic and genetic changes, In: BMC microbiology19(1)294pp. 294-294 BioMed Central
    Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Oliver J. Charity, Mark Reuter (2021)A Campylobacter integrative and conjugative element with a CRISPR-Cas9 system targeting competing plasmids: a history of plasmid warfare?, In: Microbial genomics7(11)000729 Microbiology Soc

    Microbial genomes are highly adaptable, with mobile genetic elements (MGEs) such as integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) mediating the dissemination of new genetic information throughout bacterial populations. This is countered by defence mechanisms such as CRISPR- Cas systems, which limit invading MGEs by sequence-specific targeting. Here we report the distribution of the pVir, pTet and PCC42 plasmids and a new 70-129 kb ICE (CampyICE1) in the foodborne bacterial pathogens Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli. CampyICE1 contains a degenerated Type II -C CRISPR system consisting of a sole Cas9 protein, which is distinct from the previously described Cas9 proteins from C. jejuni and C. coli. CampyICE1 is conserved in structure and gene order, containing blocks of genes predicted to be involved in recombination, regulation and conjugation. CampyICE1 was detected in 134/5829 (2.3 %) C. jejuni genomes and 92/1347 (6.8 %) C. coli genomes. Similar ICEs were detected in a number of non-jejuni/coli Campylobacter species, although these lacked a CRISPR- Cas system. CampyICE1 carries three separate short CRISPR spacer arrays containing a combination of 108 unique spacers and 16 spacer-variant families. A total of 69 spacers and 10 spacer-variant families (63.7 %) were predicted to target Campylobacter plasmids. The presence of a functional CampyICE1 Cas9 protein and matching anti-plasmid spacers was associated with the absence of the pVir, pTet and pCC42 plasmids (188/214 genomes, 87.9 %), suggesting that the CampyICE1-encoded CRISPR- Cas has contributed to the exclusion of competing plasmids. In conclusion, the characteristics of the CRISPR- Cas9 system on CampyICE1 suggests a history of plasmid warfare in Campylobacter.

    Fatemah Al-Kandari, Rabeah Al-Temaimi, Arnoud van Vliet, Martin J. Woodward (2019)Thymol tolerance in Escherichia coli induces morphological, metabolic and genetic changes., In: BMC Microbiology19(1) Springer Nature

    Background: Thymol is a phenolic compound used for its wide spectrum antimicrobial activity. There is a limited understanding of the antimicrobial mechanisms underlying thymol activity. To investigate this, E. coli strain JM109 was exposed to thymol at sub-lethal concentrations and after 16 rounds of exposure, isolates with a 2-fold increased minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) were recovered (JM109-Thyr). The phenotype was stable after multiple sub-cultures without thymol. Results: Cell morphology studies by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) suggest that thymol renders bacterial cell membranes permeable and disrupts cellular integrity. 1H Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data showed an increase in lactate and the lactic acid family amino acids in the wild type and JM109-Thyr in the presence of thymol, indicating a shift from aerobic respiration to fermentation. Sequencing of JM109-Thyr defined multiple mutations including a stop mutation in the acrR gene resulting in a truncation of the repressor of the AcrAB efflux pump. AcrAB is a multiprotein complex traversing the cytoplasmic and outer membrane, and is involved in antibiotic clearance. Conclusions: Our data suggests that thymol tolerance in E. coli induces morphological, metabolic and genetic changes to adapt to thymol antimicrobial activity. Keywords: Escherichia coli, Thymol, Resistance, Acriflavine resistance regulator, Efflux pump

    Ben P Jones, ARNOUD VAN VLIET, E. James LaCourse, MARTHA ELIZABETH BETSON (2022)In Silico Docking of Nematode β-Tubulins With Benzimidazoles Points to Gene Expression and Orthologue Variation as Factors in Anthelmintic Resistance, In: Frontiers in tropical diseases3898814 Frontiers Media

    The efficacy of benzimidazole anthelmintics can vary depending on the target parasite, with Ascaris nematodes being highly responsive, and whipworms being less responsive. Anthelmintic resistance has become widespread, particularly in strongyle nematodes such as Haemonchus contortus in ruminants, and resistance has recently been detected in hookworms of humans and dogs. Past work has shown that there are multiple β-tubulin isotypes in helminths, yet only a few of these contribute to benzimidazole interactions and resistance. The β-tubulin isotypes of ascarids and soil-transmitted helminths were identified by mining available genome data, and phylogenetic analysis showed that the ascarids share a similar repertoire of seven β-tubulin isotypes. Strongyles also have a consistent pattern of four β-tubulin isotypes. In contrast, the whipworms only have two isotypes, with one of these clustering more basally and distinct from any other group. Key β-tubulin isotypes selected based on previous studies were the focus of in silico molecular docking simulations to look at the interactions with benzimidazoles. These showed that all β-tubulins had similar interactions with benzimidazoles and maintained the key bond with residue E198 in all species, indicating similar mechanisms of action. However, the interaction was stronger and more consistent in the strongyles and whipworms than it was in the ascarids. Alteration of β-tubulin isotypes with the common resistance-associated mutations originally identified in H. contortus resulted in similar interaction modeling for all species. In conclusion, ascarids, strongyles, and whipworms all have their own unique repertoire of β-tubulins, which could explain why benzimidazole resistance and susceptibility varies between these groups of parasites. These data complement recent work that has highlighted the roles of essential residues in benzimidazole drug binding and shows that there is a separation between strongyle parasites that frequently develop resistance and ascarid parasites, which have been much less prone to developing resistance

    Arnoud HM van Vliet, Siddhartha Thakur, Joaquin M Prada, Jai W Mehat, Roberto La Ragione (2021)Genomic screening of antimicrobial resistance markers in UK and US Campylobacter isolates highlights stability of resistance over an 18 year period, In: bioRxiv Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
    Francisco M. D. Evangelista, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Scott P. Lawton, Martha Elizabeth Betson (2023)In silico design of a polypeptide as a vaccine candidate against ascariasis, In: Scientific Reports133504 Nature Research

    Ascariasis is the most prevalent zoonotic helminthic disease worldwide, and is responsible for nutritional deficiencies, particularly hindering the physical and neurological development of children. The appearance of anthelmintic resistance in Ascaris is a risk for the target of eliminating ascariasis as a public health problem by 2030 set by the World Health Organisation. The development of a vaccine could be key to achieving this target. Here we have applied an in silico approach to design a multi-epitope polypeptide that contains T-cell and B-cell epitopes of reported novel potential vaccination targets, alongside epitopes from established vaccination candidates. An artificial toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4) adjuvant (RS09) was added to improve immunogenicity. The constructed peptide was found to be non-allergic, non-toxic, with adequate antigenic and physicochemical characteristics, such as solubility and potential expression in Escherichia coli. A tertiary structure of the polypeptide was used to predict the presence of discontinuous B-cell epitopes and to confirm the molecular binding stability with TLR2 and TLR4 molecules. Immune simulations predicted an increase in B-cell and T-cell immune response after injection. This polypeptide can now be validated experimentally and compared to other vaccine candidates to assess its possible impact in human health.

    Jai W. Mehat, Simon F. Park, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Roberto M. La Ragione (2018)CapC, a novel autotransporter and virulence factor of Campylobacter jejuni, In: Applied and Environmental Microbiologypp. e01032-18 American Society for Microbiology

    Campylobacter jejuni is recognized as an important causative agent of bacterial gastroenteritis in the developed world. Despite the identification of several factors contributing to infection, characterization of the virulence strategies employed by C. jejuni remains a significant challenge. Bacterial autotransporter proteins are a major class of secretory proteins in Gram-negative bacteria and notably many autotransporter proteins contribute to bacterial virulence. The aim of this study was to characterise the C. jejuni 81116 C8J_1278 gene (capC), predicted to encode an autotransporter protein, and examine the contribution of this factor to virulence of Campylobacter jejuni. The predicted CapC protein has a number of features that are consistent with autotransporters including the N-terminal signal sequence and the C-terminal β-barrel domain and was determined to localise to the outer membrane. Inactivation of the capC gene in C. jejuni 81116 and C. jejuni M1 resulted in reduced insecticidal activity in Galleria mellonella larvae. Furthermore, C. jejuni capC mutants displayed significantly reduced adherence to and invasion of non-polarized, partially differentiated Caco-2 and T84 intestinal epithelial cells. Gentamicin treatment showed that the reduced invasion of the capC mutant is primarily caused by reduced adherence to intestinal epithelial cells, not by reduced invasion capability. C. jejuni capC mutants caused reduced IL-8 secretion from intestinal epithelial cells and elicited a significantly diminished immune reaction in Galleria larvae indicating that CapC functions as an immunogen. In conclusion, CapC is a new virulence determinant of C. jejuni that contributes to the integral infection process of adhesion to human intestinal epithelial cells.

    Luca Robinson, Janie Liaw, Zahra Omole, Dong Xia, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Nicolae Corcionivoschi, Abderrahman Hachani, Ozan Gundogdu, Arnoud Van Vliet (2021)Bioinformatic Analysis of the Campylobacter jejuni Type VI Secretion System and Effector Prediction (vol 12, 694824, 2021), In: Frontiers in microbiology12793252 Frontiers Media Sa
    Dawn M. Hull, Erin Harrell, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Maria Correa, Siddhartha Thakur, Arnoud Van Vliet (2021)Antimicrobial resistance and interspecies gene transfer in Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni isolated from food animals, poultry processing, and retail meat in North Carolina, 2018-2019, In: PloS one16(2)0246571pp. e0246571-e0246571 Public Library Science

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies antimicrobial resistant (AMR) Campylobacter as a serious threat to U.S. public health due to high community burden, increased transmissibility, and limited treatability. The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) plays an important role in surveillance of AMR bacterial pathogens in humans, food animals and retail meats. This study investigated C. coli and C. jejuni from live food animals, poultry carcasses at production, and retail meat in North Carolina between January 2018-December 2019. Whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics were used for phenotypic and genotypic characterization to compare AMR profiles, virulence factors associated with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) (neuABC and cst-II or cst-III), and phylogenic linkage between 541 Campylobacter isolates (C. coli n = 343, C. jejuni n = 198). Overall, 90.4% (489/541) Campylobacter isolates tested positive for AMR genes, while 43% (233/541) carried resistance genes for three or more antibiotic classes and were classified molecularly multidrug resistant. AMR gene frequencies were highest against tetracyclines (64.3%), beta-lactams (63.6%), aminoglycosides (38.6%), macrolides (34.8%), quinolones (24.4%), lincosamides (13.5%), and streptothricins (5%). A total of 57.6% (114/198) C. jejuni carried GBS virulence factors, while three C. coli carried the C. jejuni-like lipooligosaccharide locus, neuABC and cst-II. Further evidence of C. coli and C. jejuni interspecies genomic exchange was observed in identical multilocus sequence typing, shared sequence type (ST) 7818 clonal complex 828, and identical species-indicator genes mapA, ceuE, and hipO. There was a significant increase in novel STs from 2018 to 2019 (2 in 2018 and 21 in 2019, p

    Mark Reuter, Eveline Ultee, Yasmin Toseafa, Andrew Tan, Arnoud H M van Vliet, Arnoud Van Vliet (2020)Inactivation of the core cheVAWY chemotaxis genes disrupts chemotactic motility and organised biofilm formation in Campylobacter jejuni, In: FEMS microbiology letters367(24)fnaa198

    ABSTRACT Flagellar motility plays a central role in the bacterial foodborne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, as flagellar motility is required for reaching the intestinal epithelium and subsequent colonisation or disease. Flagellar proteins also contribute strongly to biofilm formation during transmission. Chemotaxis is the process directing flagellar motility in response to attractant and repellent stimuli, but its role in biofilm formation of C. jejuni is not well understood. Here we show that inactivation of the core chemotaxis genes cheVAWY in C. jejuni strain NCTC 11168 affects both chemotactic motility and biofilm formation. Inactivation of any of the core chemotaxis genes (cheA, cheY, cheV or cheW) impaired chemotactic motility but did not affect flagellar assembly or growth. The ∆cheY mutant swam in clockwise loops, while complementation restored normal motility. Inactivation of the core chemotaxis genes interfered with the ability to form a discrete biofilm at the air-media interface, and the ∆cheY mutant displayed reduced dispersal/shedding of bacteria into the planktonic fraction. This suggests that while the chemotaxis system is not required for biofilm formation per se, it is necessary for organized biofilm formation. Hence interference with the Campylobacter chemotaxis system at any level disrupts optimal chemotactic motility and transmission modes such as biofilm formation.

    Kieran Bowran, Stephen R. Garrett, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Tracy Palmer, Arnoud Van Vliet (2023)A novel variant of the Listeria monocytogenes type VII secretion system EssC component is associated with an Rhs toxin, In: Microbial genomics9(6)001036

    The type VIIb protein secretion system (T7SSb) is found in Bacillota (firmicute) bacteria and has been shown to mediate interbacterial competition. EssC is a membrane-bound ATPase that is a critical component of the T7SSb and plays a key role in substrate recognition. Prior analysis of available genome sequences of the foodborne bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes has shown that although the T7SSb was encoded as part of the core genome, EssC could be found as one of seven different sequence variants. While each sequence variant was associated with a specific suite of candidate substrate proteins encoded immediately downstream of essC , many LXG-domain proteins were encoded across multiple essC sequence variants. Here, we have extended this analysis using a diverse collection of 37 930 L . monocytogenes genomes. We have identified a rare eighth variant of EssC present in ten L. monocytogenes lineage III genomes. These genomes also encode a large toxin of the rearrangement hotspot (Rhs) repeat family adjacent to essC8 , along with a probable immunity protein and three small accessory proteins. We have further identified nine novel LXG-domain proteins, and four additional chromosomal hotspots across L. monocytogenes genomes where LXG proteins can be encoded. The eight L. monocytogenes EssC variants were also found in other Listeria species, with additional novel EssC types also identified. Across the genus, species frequently encoded multiple EssC types, indicating that T7SSb diversity is a primary feature of the genus Listeria .

    Hannah R. Meredith, Sarath Kularatna, Kristin Nagaro, Ajith Nagahawatte, Champica Bodinayake, Ruvini Kurukulasooriya, Nishadhi Wijesingha, Lyndy B. Harden, Bhagya Piyasiri, Amr Hammouda, Brian M. Wiegmann, Bradly P. Nicholson, Maria Joyce, Christopher W. Woods, Arnoud H. M. Van Vliet, Siddhartha Thakur, L. Gayani Tillekeratne, Arnoud Van Vliet (2021)Colonization with multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae among infants: an observational study in southern Sri Lanka, In: Antimicrobial resistance & infection control10(1)72pp. 72-72 Springer Nature

    Background The timing of and risk factors for intestinal colonization with multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (MDRE) are still poorly understood in areas with high MDRE carriage. We determined the prevalence, timing, and risk factors associated with MDRE intestinal colonization among infants in southern Sri Lanka. Methods Women and their newborn children were enrolled within 48 h after delivery in southern Sri Lanka. Rectal swabs were collected from women and infants at enrollment and 4-6 weeks later. Enterobacteriaceae were isolated and identified as MDRE (positive for extended-spectrum beta-lactamases or carbapenem resistant) using standard microbiologic procedures. We used exact methods (Fisher's exact and Kruskal-Wallis tests) and multivariable logistic regression to identify sociodemographic and clinical features associated with MDRE intestinal colonization. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on selected MDRE isolates to identify phylogroups and antibiotic resistance-encoding genes were identified with NCBI's AMRfinder tool. Results Overall, 199 post-partum women and 199 infants were enrolled; 148/199 (74.4%) women and 151/199 (75.9%) infants were reassessed later in the community. Twenty-four/199 (12.1%) women and 3/199 (1.5%) infants displayed intestinal colonization with MDRE at enrollment, while 26/148 (17.6%) women and 24/151 (15.9%) infants displayed intestinal colonization with MDRE at the reassessment. While there were no risk factors associated with infant colonization at enrollment, multivariable analysis indicated that risk factors for infant colonization at reassessment included mother colonized at enrollment (aOR = 3.62) or reassessment (aOR = 4.44), delivery by Cesarean section (aOR = 2.91), and low birth weight (aOR = 5.39). Of the 20 MDRE isolates from infants that were sequenced, multilocus sequence typing revealed that 6/20 (30%) were clustered on the same branch as MDRE isolates found in the respective mothers. All sequenced isolates for mothers (47) and infants (20) had at least one ESBL-producing gene. Genes encoding fosfomycin resistance were found in 33/47 (70%) of mothers' isolates and 16/20 (80%) of infants' isolates and genes encoding resistance to colistin were found in one (2%) mother's isolate. Conclusions Our results suggest that a substantial proportion of infants undergo MDRE intestinal colonization within 6 weeks of birth, potentially due to postnatal rather than intranatal transmission.

    M Reuter, AH van Vliet (2013)Signal balancing by the CetABC and CetZ chemoreceptors controls energy taxis in Campylobacter jejuni, In: PLoS One8e54390 Public Library of Science (PLoS)

    The coupling of environmental sensing to flagella-mediated directed motility allows bacteria to move to optimum environments for growth and survival, either by sensing external stimuli (chemotaxis) or monitoring internal metabolic status (energy taxis). Sensing is mediated by transducer-like proteins (Tlp), either located in the membrane or in the cytoplasm, which commonly influence motility via the CheA-CheY chemotaxis pathway. In this study we have investigated the role of PAS-domain-containing intracellular Tlp-sensors in energy taxis of the food-borne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, using plate- and tube-based assays utilising the conversion of the redox indicator dyes triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) and resazurin. Inactivation of the genes encoding the Campylobacter Energy Taxis system (CetA (Tlp9) and CetB (Aer2)) in C. jejuni strain NCTC 11168 resulted in reduced taxis. Inactivation of the cj1191c gene, encoding the CetB homolog CetC (Aer1), did not affect taxis per se, but the cetC gene complemented a cetB mutant in trans, indicating that CetC can form a functional signal transduction complex with CetA in the absence of CetB. Inactivation of both CetB and CetC resulted in greatly reduced taxis confirming the role of CetC in energy taxis. Inactivation of the cj1110c gene, encoding Tlp8 (CetZ), a cytoplasmic sensor with two PAS-domains, resulted in increased taxis, a phenotype opposite to that of CetAB. Inactivation of the cheA gene resulted in the same overall phenotype as the cetAB mutant in both wild-type and cetZ backgrounds, suggesting that both systems use the CheA system for signal transduction. Absence of both CetAB and CetZ resulted in the cetAB taxis phenotype, suggesting that CetZ is subordinate to CetAB. In conclusion, we present evidence that C. jejuni balances the input from two counteracting PAS-domain-containing sensory systems to position itself for optimal usage of energy resources.

    MM Gerrits, AH van Vliet, EJ Kuipers, JG Kusters (2006)Helicobacter pylori and antimicrobial resistance: molecular mechanisms and clinical implications, In: Lancet Infectious Diseases6(11)pp. 699-709

    Helicobacter pylori is an important human pathogen that colonises the stomach of about half of the world's population. The bacterium has now been accepted as the causative agent of several gastroduodenal disorders, ranging from chronic active gastritis and peptic ulcer disease to gastric cancer. The recognition of H pylori as a gastric pathogen has had a substantial effect on gastroenterological practice, since many untreatable gastroduodenal disorders with uncertain cause became curable infectious diseases. Treatment of H pylori infection results in ulcer healing and can reduce the risk of gastric cancer development. Although H pylori is susceptible to many antibiotics in vitro, only a few antibiotics can be used in vivo to cure the infection. The frequent indication for anti-H pylori therapy, together with the limited choice of antibiotics, has resulted in the development of antibiotic resistance in H pylori, which substantially impairs the treatment of H pylori-associated disorders. Antimicrobial resistance in H pylori is widespread, and although the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance shows regional variation per antibiotic, it can be as high as 95%. We focus on the treatment of H pylori infection and on the clinical relevance, mechanisms, and diagnosis of antimicrobial resistance.

    R Dwivedi, H Nothaft, J Garber, L Xin Kin, M Stahl, A Flint, AHM van Vliet, A Stintzi, CM Szymanski (2016)L-fucose influences chemotaxis and biofilm formation in Campylobacter jejuni, In: Molecular Microbiology101(4)pp. 575-589 Wiley

    Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are zoonotic pathogens once considered asaccharolytic, but are now known to encode pathways for glucose and fucose uptake/metabolism. For C. jejuni, strains with the fuc locus possess a competitive advantage in animal colonization models. We demonstrate that this locus is present in > 50% of genome-sequenced strains and is prevalent in livestock-associated isolates of both species. To better understand how these campylobacters sense nutrient availability, we examined biofilm formation and chemotaxis to fucose. C. jejuni NCTC11168 forms less biofilms in the presence of fucose, although its fucose permease mutant (fucP) shows no change. In a newly developed chemotaxis assay, both wild-type and the fucP mutant are chemotactic towards fucose. C. jejuni 81-176 naturally lacks the fuc locus and is unable to swim towards fucose. Transfer of the NCTC11168 locus into 81-176 activated fucose uptake and chemotaxis. Fucose chemotaxis also correlated with possession of the pathway for C. jejuni RM1221 (fuc+) and 81116 (fuc-). Systematic mutation of the NCTC11168 locus revealed that Cj0485 is necessary for fucose metabolism and chemotaxis. This study suggests that components for fucose chemotaxis are encoded within the fuc locus, but downstream signals only in fuc + strains, are involved in coordinating fucose availability with biofilm development.

    MW Peck, AHM van Vliet (2016)Impact of Clostridium botulinum genomic diversity on food safety, In: Current Opinion in Food Science10pp. 52-59 Elsevier

    The deadly botulinum neurotoxin formed by Clostridium botulinum is the causative agent of foodborne botulism. The increasing availability of C. botulinum genome sequences is starting to allow the genomic diversity of C. botulinum Groups I and II and their neurotoxins to be characterised. This information will impact on microbiological food safety through improved surveillance and tracing/tracking during outbreaks, and a better characterisation of C. botulinum Groups I and II, including the risk presented, and new insights into their biology, food chain transmission, and evolution

    J Stoof, EJ Kuipers, AH van Vliet (2009)Characterization of NikR-responsive promoters of urease and metal transport genes of Helicobacter mustelae, In: Biometals23pp. 145-159 Springer

    The NikR protein is a nickel-responsive regulator, which in the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori controls expression of nickel-transporters and the nickel-cofactored urease acid resistance determinant. Although NikR-DNA interaction has been well studied, the Helicobacter NikR operator site remains poorly defined. In this study we have identified the NikR operators in the promoters of two inversely nickel-regulated urease operons (ureAB and ureA2B2) in the ferret pathogen Helicobacter mustelae, and have used bioinformatic approaches for the prediction of putative NikR operators in the genomes of four urease-positive Helicobacter species. Helicobacter mustelae NikR bound to the ureA2 promoter to a sequence overlapping with the −35 promoter region, leading to repression. In contrast, NikR binding to a site far upstream of the canonical σ80 promoter in the H. mustelae ureA promoter resulted in transcriptional induction, similar to the situation in H. pylori. Using H. pylori NikR operators and the newly identified H. mustelae NikR operators a new consensus sequence was generated (TRWYA-N15-TRWYA), which was used to screen the genomes of four urease-positive Helicobacter species (H. mustelae, H. pylori, H. acinonychis and H. hepaticus) for putative NikR-regulated promoters. One of these novel putative NikR-regulated promoters in H. mustelae is located upstream of a putative TonB-dependent outer membrane protein designated NikH, which displayed nickel-responsive expression. Insertional inactivation of the nikH gene in H. mustelae resulted in a significant decrease in urease activity, and this phenotype was complemented by nickel-supplementation of the growth medium, suggesting a function for NikH in nickel transport accross the outer membrane. In conclusion, the H. mustelae NikR regulator directly controls nickel-responsive regulation of ureases and metal transporters. The improved consensus NikR operator sequence allows the prediction of additional NikR targets in Helicobacter genomes, as demonstrated by the identification of a new nickel-repressed outer membrane protein in H. mustelae.

    FL Shaw, F Mulholland, G Le Gall, I Porcelli, DJ Hart, BM Pearson, AH van Vliet (2012)Selenium-dependent biogenesis of formate dehydrogenase in Campylobacter jejuni is controlled by the fdhTU accessory genes, In: Journal of Bacteriology194(15)pp. 3814-3823 American Society for Microbiology

    The food-borne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni efficiently utilizes organic acids such as lactate and formate for energy production. Formate is rapidly metabolized via the activity of the multisubunit formate dehydrogenase (FDH) enzyme, of which the FdhA subunit is predicted to contain a selenocysteine (SeC) amino acid. In this study we investigated the function of the cj1500 and cj1501 genes of C. jejuni, demonstrate that they are involved in selenium-controlled production of FDH, and propose the names fdhT and fdhU, respectively. Insertional inactivation of fdhT or fdhU in C. jejuni resulted in the absence of FdhA and FdhB protein expression, reduced fdhABC RNA levels, the absence of FDH enzyme activity, and the lack of formate utilization, as assessed by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance. The fdhABC genes are transcribed from a single promoter located two genes upstream of fdhA, and the decrease in fdhABC RNA levels in the fdhU mutant is mediated at the posttranscriptional level. FDH activity and the ability to utilize formate were restored by genetic complementation with fdhU and by supplementation of the growth media with selenium dioxide. Disruption of SeC synthesis by inactivation of the selA and selB genes also resulted in the absence of FDH activity, which could not be restored by selenium supplementation. Comparative genomic analysis suggests a link between the presence of selA and fdhTU orthologs and the predicted presence of SeC in FdhA. The fdhTU genes encode accessory proteins required for FDH expression and activity in C. jejuni, possibly by contributing to acquisition or utilization of selenium.

    J Stoof, S Breijer, RG Pot, D van der Neut, EJ Kuipers, JG Kusters, AH van Vliet (2008)Inverse nickel-responsive regulation of two urease enzymes in the gastric pathogen Helicobacter mustelae, In: Environmental Microbiology10(10)pp. 2586-2597 Wiley

    The acidic gastric environment of mammals can be chronically colonized by pathogenic Helicobacter species, which use the nickel-dependent urea-degrading enzyme urease to confer acid resistance. Nickel availability in the mammal host is low, being mostly restricted to vegetarian dietary sources, and thus Helicobacter species colonizing carnivores may be subjected to episodes of nickel deficiency and associated acid sensitivity. The aim of this study was to investigate how these Helicobacter species have adapted to the nickel-restricted diet of their carnivorous host. Three carnivore-colonizing Helicobacter species express a second functional urea-degrading urease enzyme (UreA2B2), which functions as adaptation to nickel deficiency. UreA2B2 was not detected in seven other Helicobacter species, and is in Helicobacter mustelae only expressed in nickel-restricted conditions, and its expression was higher in iron-rich conditions. In contrast to the standard urease UreAB, UreA2B2 does not require activation by urease or hydrogenase accessory proteins, which mediate nickel incorporation into these enzymes. Activity of either UreAB or UreA2B2 urease allowed survival of a severe acid shock in the presence of urea, demonstrating a functional role for UreA2B2 in acid resistance. Pathogens often express colonization factors which are adapted to their host. The UreA2B2 urease could represent an example of pathogen adaptation to the specifics of the diet of their carnivorous host, rather than to the host itself.

    AH van Vliet, BW Wren (2009)New levels of sophistication in the transcriptional landscape of bacteria, In: GENOME BIOLOGY10233 BioMed Central

    An extra layer of complexity in the regulation of gene expression in bacteria is now apparent through previously unanticipated roles of noncoding and antisense RNAs. Bacteria are the great survivors on planet Earth, where they can adapt and flourish in harsh environments ranging from deep-sea vents to acidic mine shafts. A feature of many bacteria, particularly pathogenic bacteria, is their ability to adapt and thrive in multiple environments, which provides them with a competitive advantage. For example, the facultative intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes happily survives in the ambient environment as a saprophyte, but on occasions it has an inherent capacity to turn nasty and cause brain and materno-fetal infections in humans [1]. This requires the bacterium to switch genes on and off as it traverses different environments, ranging from a saprophytic lifestyle to the gut lumen after ingestion to invasion of epithelial cells and intracellular survival. The key to the survivalist success of pathogens is their ability to coordinate, redirect and fine-tune their genetic repertoire as and when required. Traditionally, transcriptional reshaping in bacteria has been considered to be controlled by a hierarchical network of interconnected global transcriptional regulators, such as sigma factors and one- and two-component regulatory systems [2]. In the past decade it has become apparent that the various forms of noncoding regulatory RNA (previously considered as intergenic junk) play important roles in the global regulation of cellular functions, and may represent connecting links between many cellular networks [3, 4]. As such, noncoding RNA also plays a subtle but crucial role in the coordination of the expression of bacterial virulence determinants [5]. Two recent papers from Pascale Cossart and colleagues [6, 7] present a comprehensive microarray analysis of the trans-criptome of Listeria monocytogenes in different conditions, uncovering an unsuspected variety of regulatory roles for noncoding RNAs in controlling changes in gene expression that characterize the transition from saprophytic to pathogenic lifestyle.

    BM Pearson, DJ Gaskin, RP Segers, JM Wells, PJ Nuijten, AH van Vliet (2007)The complete genome sequence of Campylobacter jejuni strain 81116 (NCTC11828), In: Journal of Bacteriology189(22)pp. 8402-8403 American Society for Microbiology

    Campylobacter jejuni is a major human enteric pathogen that displays genetic variability via genomic reorganization and phase variation. This variability can adversely affect the outcomes and reproducibility of experiments. C. jejuni strain 81116 (NCTC11828) has been suggested to be a genetically stable strain (G. Manning, B. Duim, T. Wassenaar, J. A. Wagenaar, A. Ridley, and D. G. Newell, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 67:1185-1189, 2001), is amenable to genetic manipulation, and is infective for chickens. Here we report the finished annotated genome sequence of C. jejuni strain 81116.

    AH van Vliet (2010)Next generation sequencing of microbial transcriptomes: challenges and opportunities, In: FEMS Microbiology Letters302pp. 1-7 Oxford University Press

    Over the past 15 years, microbial functional genomics has been made possible by the combined power of genome sequencing and microarray technology. However, we are now approaching the technical limits of microarray technology, and microarrays are now being superseded by transcriptomics based on high-throughput (next generation) DNA-sequencing technologies. The term RNA-seq has been coined to represent transcriptomics by next-generation sequencing. Although pioneered on eukaryotic organisms due to the relative ease of working with eukaryotic mRNA, the RNA-seq technology is now being ported to microbial systems. This review will discuss the opportunities of RNA-seq transcriptome sequencing for microorganisms, and also aims to identify challenges and pitfalls of the use of this new technology in microorganisms

    M. Sadequl Islam, Mohamed E. El Zowalaty, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Siddhartha Thakur, M. Minara Khatun, Sukumar Saha, M. Tanvir Rahman, Ayman Noreddin, M. Ariful Islam, Julie C. Dunning Hotopp (2019)First Genome Sequence of Brucella abortus Biovar 3 Strain BAU21/S4023, Isolated from a Dairy Cow in Bangladesh, In: Microbiology Resource Announcements8(24)e00446-19pp. 1-4

    We report the genome sequence of Brucella abortus biovar 3 strain BAU21/S4023, isolated from a dairy cow that suffered an abortion in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The genome sequence length is 3,244,234 bp with a 57.2% GC content, 3,147 coding DNA sequences (CDSs), 51 tRNAs, 1 transfer messenger RNA (tmRNA), and 3 rRNA genes.

    Michael Hornsey, Jonathan W. Betts, Jai W. Mehat, David W. Wareham, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Martin J. Woodward, Roberto M. La Ragione (2019)Characterization of a colistin-resistant Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli ST69 isolate recovered from a broiler chicken in Germany, In: Journal of Medical Microbiology68(1)pp. 111-114 Microbiology Society

    In recent years, several plasmids harbouring genes encoding phosphoethanolamine transferases conferring colistin resistance have been described in multiple Enterobacteriaceae species. Avian Pathogenic E. coli (APEC) causes colibacillosis and is responsible for a considerable proportion of the disease burden in commercial poultry flocks, and may be linked to zoonotic infections in humans. Here, we describe the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of a multidrug-resistant APEC ST69 isolate (APECA2), recovered in 2016 from a diseased broiler at post-mortem examination in Germany. The isolate was resistant to several antibiotics of human and veterinary importance, including colistin. The mcr-1 gene was detected on a mobile genetic element located on an IncHI2/ST4 plasmid, which was characterized using long-read Nanopore and short-read Illumina sequencing of purified plasmid. Isolate APECA2 displayed resistance to chicken serum and harbours numerous virulence genes. This study highlights the public health importance of enhanced antimicrobial resistance surveillance and strict antimicrobial stewardship in human and veterinary healthcare.

    Background Salmonella enterica is a significant foodborne pathogen, which can be transmitted via several distinct routes, and reports on acquisition of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are increasing. To better understand the association between human Salmonella clinical isolates and the potential environmental/animal reservoirs, whole genome sequencing (WGS) was used to investigate the epidemiology and AMR patterns within Salmonella isolates from two adjacent US states. Results WGS data of 200 S. enterica isolates recovered from human (n = 44), swine (n = 32), poultry (n = 22), and farm environment (n = 102) were used for in silico prediction of serovar, distribution of virulence genes, and phylogenetically clustered using core genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and feature frequency profiling (FFP). Furthermore, AMR was studied both by genotypic prediction using five curated AMR databases, and compared to phenotypic AMR using broth microdilution. Core genome SNP-based and FFP-based phylogenetic trees showed consistent clustering of isolates into the respective serovars, and suggested clustering of isolates based on the source of isolation. The overall correlation of phenotypic and genotypic AMR was 87.61% and 97.13% for sensitivity and specificity, respectively. AMR and virulence genes clustered with the Salmonella serovars, while there were also associations between the presence of virulence genes in both animal/environmental isolates and human clinical samples. Conclusions WGS is a helpful tool for Salmonella phylogenetic analysis, AMR and virulence gene predictions. The clinical isolates clustered closely with animal and environmental isolates, suggesting that animals and environment are potential sources for dissemination of AMR and virulence genes between Salmonella serovars.

    I Porcelli, M Reuter, BM Pearson, T Wilhelm, AH van Vliet (2013)Parallel evolution of genome structure and transcriptional landscape in the Epsilonproteobacteria, In: BMC Genomics14616 BioMed Central

    Background Gene reshuffling, point mutations and horizontal gene transfer contribute to bacterial genome variation, but require the genome to rewire its transcriptional circuitry to ensure that inserted, mutated or reshuffled genes are transcribed at appropriate levels. The genomes of Epsilonproteobacteria display very low synteny, due to high levels of reshuffling and reorganisation of gene order, but still share a significant number of gene orthologs allowing comparison. Here we present the primary transcriptome of the pathogenic Epsilonproteobacterium Campylobacter jejuni, and have used this for comparative and predictive transcriptomics in the Epsilonproteobacteria. Results Differential RNA-sequencing using 454 sequencing technology was used to determine the primary transcriptome of C. jejuni NCTC 11168, which consists of 992 transcription start sites (TSS), which included 29 putative non-coding and stable RNAs, 266 intragenic (internal) TSS, and 206 antisense TSS. Several previously unknown features were identified in the C. jejuni transcriptional landscape, like leaderless mRNAs and potential leader peptides upstream of amino acid biosynthesis genes. A cross-species comparison of the primary transcriptomes of C. jejuni and the related Epsilonproteobacterium Helicobacter pylori highlighted a lack of conservation of operon organisation, position of intragenic and antisense promoters or leaderless mRNAs. Predictive comparisons using 40 other Epsilonproteobacterial genomes suggests that this lack of conservation of transcriptional features is common to all Epsilonproteobacterial genomes, and is associated with the absence of genome synteny in this subdivision of the Proteobacteria. Conclusions Both the genomes and transcriptomes of Epsilonproteobacteria are highly variable, both at the genome level by combining and division of multicistronic operons, but also on the gene level by generation or deletion of promoter sequences and 5′ untranslated regions. Regulatory features may have evolved after these species split from a common ancestor, with transcriptome rewiring compensating for changes introduced by genomic reshuffling and horizontal gene transfer.

    A Metris, M Reuter, DJ Gaskin, J Baranyi, AH van Vliet (2011)In vivo and in silico determination of essential genes of Campylobacter jejuni, In: BMC Genomics12535 BioMed Central

    Background In the United Kingdom, the thermophilic Campylobacter species C. jejuni and C. coli are the most frequent causes of food-borne gastroenteritis in humans. While campylobacteriosis is usually a relatively mild infection, it has a significant public health and economic impact, and possible complications include reactive arthritis and the autoimmune diseases Guillain-Barré syndrome. The rapid developments in "omics" technologies have resulted in the availability of diverse datasets allowing predictions of metabolism and physiology of pathogenic micro-organisms. When combined, these datasets may allow for the identification of potential weaknesses that can be used for development of new antimicrobials to reduce or eliminate C. jejuni and C. coli from the food chain. Results A metabolic model of C. jejuni was constructed using the annotation of the NCTC 11168 genome sequence, a published model of the related bacterium Helicobacter pylori, and extensive literature mining. Using this model, we have used in silico Flux Balance Analysis (FBA) to determine key metabolic routes that are essential for generating energy and biomass, thus creating a list of genes potentially essential for growth under laboratory conditions. To complement this in silico approach, candidate essential genes have been determined using a whole genome transposon mutagenesis method. FBA and transposon mutagenesis (both this study and a published study) predict a similar number of essential genes (around 200). The analysis of the intersection between the three approaches highlights the shikimate pathway where genes are predicted to be essential by one or more method, and tend to be network hubs, based on a previously published Campylobacter protein-protein interaction network, and could therefore be targets for novel antimicrobial therapy.Conclusions We have constructed the first curated metabolic model for the food-borne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni and have presented the resulting metabolic insights. We have shown that the combination of in silico and in vivo approaches could point to non-redundant, indispensable genes associated with the well characterised shikimate pathway, and also genes of unknown function specific to C. jejuni, which are all potential novel Campylobacter intervention targets.

    C Belzer, J Stoof, AH van Vliet (2007)Metal-responsive gene regulation and metal transport in Helicobacter species, In: Biometals20pp. 417-429 Springer

    Helicobacter species are among the most successful colonizers of the mammalian gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary tract. Colonization is usually lifelong, indicating that Helicobacter species have evolved intricate mechanisms of dealing with stresses encountered during colonization of host tissues, like restriction of essential metal ions. The recent availability of genome sequences of the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori, the murine enterohepatic pathogen Helicobacter hepaticus and the unannotated genome sequence of the ferret gastric pathogen Helicobacter mustelae has allowed for comparitive genome analyses. In this review we present such analyses for metal transporters, metal-storage and metal-responsive regulators in these three Helicobacter species, and discuss possible contributions of the differences in metal metabolism in adaptation to the gastric or enterohepatic niches occupied by Helicobacter species.

    M Reuter, A Mallett, BM Pearson, AH van Vliet (2010)Biofilm formation by Campylobacter jejuni is increased under aerobic conditions, In: Applied and Environmental Microbiology76(7)pp. 2122-2128 American Society for Microbiology

    The microaerophilic human pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of food-borne bacterial gastroenteritis in the developed world. During transmission through the food chain and the environment, the organism must survive stressful environmental conditions, particularly high oxygen levels. Biofilm formation has been suggested to play a role in the environmental survival of this organism. In this work we show that C. jejuni NCTC 11168 biofilms developed more rapidly under environmental and food-chain-relevant aerobic conditions (20% O2) than under microaerobic conditions (5% O2, 10% CO2), although final levels of biofilms were comparable after 3 days. Staining of biofilms with Congo red gave results similar to those obtained with the commonly used crystal violet staining. The level of biofilm formation by nonmotile aflagellate strains was lower than that observed for the motile flagellated strain but nonetheless increased under aerobic conditions, suggesting the presence of flagellum-dependent and flagellum-independent mechanisms of biofilm formation in C. jejuni. Moreover, preformed biofilms shed high numbers of viable C. jejuni cells into the culture supernatant independently of the oxygen concentration, suggesting a continuous passive release of cells into the medium rather than a condition-specific active mechanism of dispersal. We conclude that under aerobic or stressful conditions, C. jejuni adapts to a biofilm lifestyle, allowing survival under detrimental conditions, and that such a biofilm can function as a reservoir of viable planktonic cells. The increased level of biofilm formation under aerobic conditions is likely to be an adaptation contributing to the zoonotic lifestyle of C. jejuni.

    RA Handley, F Mulholland, M Reuter, VK Ramachandran, H Musk, L Clissold, NE Le Brun, AH van Vliet (2015)PerR controls oxidative stress defence and aerotolerance but not motility-associated phenotypes of Campylobacter jejuni, In: Microbiology161(7)pp. 1524-1536 Microbiology Society

    The foodborne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is an obligate microaerophile that is exposed to atmospheric oxygen during transmission through the food chain. Survival under aerobic conditions requires the concerted control of oxidative stress systems, which in C. jejuni are intimately connected with iron metabolism via the PerR and Fur regulatory proteins. Here, we have characterized the roles of C. jejuni PerR in oxidative stress and motility phenotypes, and its regulon at the level of transcription, protein expression and promoter interactions. Insertional inactivation of perR in the C. jejuni reference strains NCTC 11168, 81-176 and 81116 did not result in any growth deficiencies, but strongly increased survival in atmospheric oxygen conditions, and allowed growth around filter discs infused with up to 30 % H2O2 (8.8 M). Expression of catalase, alkyl hydroperoxide reductase, thioredoxin reductase and the Rrc desulforubrerythrin was increased in the perR mutant, and this was mediated at the transcriptional level as shown by electrophoretic mobility shift assays of the katA, ahpC and trxB promoters using purified PerR. Differential RNA-sequencing analysis of a fur perR mutant allowed the identification of eight previously unknown transcription start sites of genes controlled by Fur and/or PerR. Finally, inactivation of perR in C. jejuni did not result in reduced motility, and did not reduce killing of Galleria melonella wax moth larvae. In conclusion, PerR plays an important role in controlling oxidative stress resistance and aerobic survival of C. jejuni, but this role does not extend into control of motility and associated phenotypes.

    O Gundogdu, DT da Silva, B Mohammad, A Elmi, BW Wren, Arnoud van Vliet, N Dorrell (2016)The Campylobacter jejuni oxidative stress regulator RrpB is associated with a genomic hypervariable region and altered oxidative stress resistance, In: Frontiers in Microbiology7(2117)227256 Frontiers Media

    Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of bacterial foodborne diarrhoeal disease worldwide. Despite the microaerophilic nature of the bacterium, C. jejuni can survive the atmospheric oxygen conditions in the environment. Bacteria that can survive either within a host or in the environment like C. jejuni require variable responses to survive the stresses associated with exposure to different levels of reactive oxygen species. The MarR-type transcriptional regulators RrpA and RrpB have recently been shown to play a role in controlling both the C. jejuni oxidative and aerobic stress responses. Analysis of 3,746 Campylobacter jejuni and 486 Campylobacter coli genome sequences showed that whilst rrpA is present in over 99% of C. jejuni strains, the presence of rrpB is restricted and appears to correlate with specific MLST clonal complexes (predominantly ST-21 and ST-61). C. coli strains in contrast lack both rrpA and rrpB. In C. jejuni rrpB+ strains, the rrpB gene is located within a variable genomic region containing the IF subtype of the type I Restriction-Modification (hsd) system, whilst this variable genomic region in C. jejuni rrpB- strains contains the IAB subtype hsd system and not the rrpB gene. C. jejuni rrpB- strains exhibit greater resistance to peroxide and aerobic stress than C. jejuni rrpB+ strains. Inactivation of rrpA resulted in increased sensitivity to peroxide stress in rrpB+ strains, but not in rrpB- strains. Mutation of rrpA resulted in reduced killing of Galleria mellonella larvae and enhanced biofilm formation independent of rrpB status. The oxidative and aerobic stress responses of rrpB- and rrpB+ strains suggest adaptation of C. jejuni within different hosts and niches that can be linked to specific MLST clonal complexes.

    Arnoud van Vliet (2016)Use of pan-genome analysis for the identification of lineage-specific genes of Helicobacter pylori, In: FEMS Microbiology Letters364(2)fnw296. Oxford University Press

    The human bacterial pathogen Helicobacter pylori has a highly variable genome, with significant allelic and sequence diversity between isolates and even within well-characterised strains, hampering comparative genomics of H. pylori. In this study, pan-genome analysis has been used to identify lineage-specific genes of H. pylori. A total of 346 H. pylori genomes spanning the hpAfrica1, hpAfrica2, hpAsia2, hpEurope, hspAmerind and hspEAsia multilocus sequence typing (MLST) lineages were searched for genes specifically over- or underrepresented in MLST lineages or associated with the cag pathogenicity island (PAI). The only genes overrepresented in cagpositive genomes were the cag PAI genes themselves. In contrast, a total of 125 genes were either overrepresented or underrepresented in one or more MLST-lineages. Of these 125 genes, alcohol/aldehyde-reducing enzymes linked with acid-resistance and production of toxic aldehydes were found to be overrepresented in African lineages. Conversely, the FecA2 ferric citrate receptor was missing from hspAmerind genomes, but present in all other lineages. This work shows the applicability of pan-genome analysis for identification of lineage-specific genes of H. pylori, facilitating further investigation to allow linkage of differential distribution of genes with disease outcome or virulence, and can be used with other microbial pathogens with highly variable genomes.

    AH van Vliet, FD Ernst, JG Kusters (2004)NikR-mediated regulation of Helicobacter pylori acid adaptation, In: Trends in Microbiology12(11)pp. 489-494 Elsevier

    Nickel is the cofactor of the Helicobacter pylori urease enzyme, a factor essential for the chronic colonization of the acidic hostile environment in the human stomach. The NikR regulatory protein directly controls urease expression and regulates the uptake of nickel, and is also able to regulate the expression of other regulatory proteins including the iron-responsive regulator Fur. Through regulatory crosstalk and overlapping regulons, the NikR protein controls the expression of many systems important for colonization and acid adaptation. Despite the paucity of regulatory proteins, this enables H. pylori to optimally adapt to conditions in the stomach, making it one of the most successful human pathogens.

    J Parkhill, BW Wren, K Mungall, JM Ketley, C Churcher, D Basham, T Chillingworth, RM Davies, T Feltwell, S Holroyd, K Jagels, AV Karlyshev, S Moule, MJ Pallen, CW Penn, MA Quail, MA Rajandream, KM Rutherford, AH van Vliet, S Whitehead, BG Barrell (2000)The genome sequence of the food-borne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni reveals hypervariable sequences, In: Nature403pp. 665-668 Nature Publishing Group

    Campylobacter jejuni, from the delta-epsilon group of proteobacteria, is a microaerophilic, Gram-negative, flagellate, spiral bacterium—properties it shares with the related gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. It is the leading cause of bacterial food-borne diarrhoeal disease throughout the world1. In addition, infection with C. jejuni is the most frequent antecedent to a form of neuromuscular paralysis known as Guillain–Barré syndrome2. Here we report the genome sequence of C. jejuni NCTC11168. C. jejuni has a circular chromosome of 1,641,481 base pairs (30.6% G+C) which is predicted to encode 1,654 proteins and 54 stable RNA species. The genome is unusual in that there are virtually no insertion sequences or phage-associated sequences and very few repeat sequences. One of the most striking findings in the genome was the presence of hypervariable sequences. These short homopolymeric runs of nucleotides were commonly found in genes encoding the biosynthesis or modification of surface structures, or in closely linked genes of unknown function. The apparently high rate of variation of these homopolymeric tracts may be important in the survival strategy of C. jejuni.

    Ben Pascoe, Lisa K. Williams, Jessica K. Calland, Guillaume Meric, Matthew D. Hitchings, Myles Dyer, Joseph Ryder, Sophie Shaw, Bruno S. Lopes, Cosmin Chintoan-Uta, Elaine Allan, Ana Vidal, Catherine Fearnley, Paul Everest, Justin A. Pachebat, Tristan A. Cogan, Mark P. Stevens, Thomas J. Humphrey, Thomas S. Wilkinson, Alison J. Cody, Frances M. Colles, Keith A. Jolley, Martin C. J. Maiden, Norval Strachan, Bruce M. Pearson, Dennis Linton, Brendan W. Wren, Julian Parkhill, David J Kelly, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Ken J. Forbes, Samuel K. Sheppard (2019)Domestication of Campylobacter jejuni NCTC 11168, In: Microbial Genomics Microbiology Society

    Reference and type strains of well-known bacteria have been a cornerstone of microbiology research for decades. The sharing of well-characterized isolates among laboratories has run in parallel with research efforts and enhanced the reproducibility of experiments, leading to a wealth of knowledge about trait variation in different species and the underlying genetics. Campylobacter jejuni strain NCTC 11168, deposited at the National Collection of Type Cultures in 1977, has been adopted widely as a reference strain by researchers worldwide and was the first Campylobacter for which the complete genome was published (in 2000). In this study, we collected 23 C . jejuni NCTC 11168 reference isolates from laboratories across the UK and compared variation in simple laboratory phenotypes with genetic variation in sequenced genomes. Putatively identical isolates, identified previously to have aberrant phenotypes, varied by up to 281 SNPs (in 15 genes) compared to the most recent reference strain. Isolates also display considerable phenotype variation in motility, morphology, growth at 37 °C, invasion of chicken and human cell lines, and susceptibility to ampicillin. This study provides evidence of ongoing evolutionary change among C. jejuni isolates as they are cultured in different laboratories and highlights the need for careful consideration of genetic variation within laboratory reference strains. This article contains data hosted by Microreact.

    MM Gerrits, EJ van der Wouden, DA Bax, AA van Zwet, AH van Vliet, A de Jong, JG Kusters, JC Thijs, EJ Kuipers (2004)Role of the rdxA and frxA genes in oxygen-dependent metronidazole resistance of Helicobacter pylori, In: Journal of Medical Microbiology53pp. 1123-1128 Microbiology Society

    Almost 50 % of all Helicobacter pylori isolates are resistant to metronidazole, which reduces the efficacy of metronidazole-containing regimens, but does not make them completely ineffective. This discrepancy between in vitro metronidazole resistance and treatment outcome may partially be explained by changes in oxygen pressure in the gastric environment, as metronidazole-resistant (MtzR) H. pylori isolates become metronidazole-susceptible (MtzS) under low oxygen conditions in vitro. In H. pylori the rdxA and frxA genes encode reductases which are required for the activation of metronidazole, and inactivation of these genes results in metronidazole resistance. Here the role of inactivating mutations in these genes on the reversibility of metronidazole resistance under low oxygen conditions is established. Clinical H. pylori isolates containing mutations resulting in a truncated RdxA and/or FrxA protein were selected and incubated under anaerobic conditions, and the effect of these conditions on the MICs of metronidazole, amoxycillin, clarithromycin and tetracycline, and cell viability were determined. While anaerobiosis had no effect on amoxycillin, clarithromycin and tetracycline resistance, all isolates lost their metronidazole resistance when cultured under anaerobic conditions. This loss of metronidazole resistance also occurred in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor chloramphenicol. Thus, factor(s) that activate metronidazole under low oxygen tension are not specifically induced by low oxygen conditions, but are already present under microaerophilic conditions. As there were no significant differences in cell viability between the clinical isolates, it is likely that neither the rdxA nor the frxA gene participates in the reversibility of metronidazole resistance.

    Jason Brunt, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Sandra C. Stringer, Andrew T. Carter, Miia Lindström, Michael W. Peck (2020)Pan-Genomic Analysis of Clostridium botulinum Group II (Non-Proteolytic C. botulinum) Associated with Foodborne Botulism and Isolated from the Environment, In: Toxins12(5)306 MDPI

    The neurotoxin formed by Clostridium botulinum Group II is a major cause of foodborne botulism, a deadly intoxication. This study aims to understand the genetic diversity and spread of C. botulinum Group II strains and their neurotoxin genes. A comparative genomic study has been conducted with 208 highly diverse C. botulinum Group II strains (180 newly sequenced strains isolated from 16 countries over 80 years, 28 sequences from Genbank). Strains possessed a single type B, E, or F neurotoxin gene or were closely related strains with no neurotoxin gene. Botulinum neurotoxin subtype variants (including novel variants) with a unique amino acid sequence were identified. Core genome single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis identified two major lineages—one with type E strains, and the second dominated by subtype B4 strains with subtype F6 strains. This study revealed novel details of population structure/diversity and established relationships between whole-genome lineage, botulinum neurotoxin subtype variant, association with foodborne botulism, epidemiology, and geographical source. Additionally, the genome sequences represent a valuable resource for the research community (e.g., understanding evolution of C. botulinum and its neurotoxin genes, dissecting key aspects of C. botulinum Group II biology). This may contribute to improved risk assessments and the prevention of foodborne botulism.

    Jai Mehat, Roberto M. La Ragione, Arnoud van Vliet (2020)Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli autotransporter genes exhibit lineageassociated distribution and decay, In: BMC Genomics21314 BMC

    Background: Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are major global causes of bacterial gastroenteritis. Whilst several individual colonisation and virulence factors have been identified, our understanding of their role in the transmission, pathogenesis and ecology of Campylobacter has been hampered by the genotypic and phenotypic diversity within C. jejuni and C. coli. Autotransporter proteins are a family of outer membrane or secreted proteins in Gram-negative bacteria such as Campylobacter, which are associated with virulence functions. In this study we have examined the distribution and predicted functionality of the previously described capC and the newly identified, related capD autotransporter gene families in Campylobacter. Results: Two capC-like autotransporter families, designated capC and capD, were identified by homology searches of genomes of the genus Campylobacter. Each family contained four distinct orthologs of CapC and CapD. The distribution of these autotransporter genes was determined in 5829 C. jejuni and 1347 C. coli genomes. Autotransporter genes were found as intact, complete copies and inactive formats due to premature stop codons and frameshift mutations. Presence of inactive and intact autotransporter genes was associated with C. jejuni and C. coli multi-locus sequence types, but for capC, inactivation was independent from the length of homopolymeric tracts in the region upstream of the capC gene. Inactivation of capC or capD genes appears to represent lineagespecific gene decay of autotransporter genes. Intact capC genes were predominantly associated with the C. jejuni ST-45 and C. coli ST-828 generalist lineages. The capD3 gene was only found in the environmental C. coli Clade 3 lineage. These combined data support a scenario of inter-lineage and interspecies exchange of capC and subsets of capD autotransporters. Conclusions: In this study we have identified two novel, related autotransporter gene families in the genus Campylobacter, which are not uniformly present and exhibit lineage-specific associations and gene decay. The distribution and decay of the capC and capD genes exemplifies the erosion of species barriers between certain lineages of C. jejuni and C. coli, probably arising through co-habitation. This may have implications for the phenotypic variability of these two pathogens and provide opportunity for new, hybrid genotypes to emerge.

    Jessika Nowak, Cristina D. Cruz, Marcel Tempelaars, Tjakko Abee, Arnoud van Vliet, Graham C. Fletcher, Duncan Hedderley, Jon Palmer, Steve Flint (2017)Persistent Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated from mussel production facilities form more biofilm but are not linked to specific genetic markers, In: International Journal of Food Microbiology256pp. 45-53 Elsevier

    Contamination of mussels with the human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes occurs during processing in the factory, possibly from bacteria persisting in the factory's indoor and outdoor areas. In this study, a selection of persistent (n = 8) and sporadic (n = 8) L. monocytogenes isolates associated with mussel-processing premises in New Zealand were investigated for their phenotypic and genomic characteristics. To identify traits that favour or contribute to bacterial persistence, biofilm formation, heat resistance, motility and recovery from dry surfaces were compared between persistent and sporadic isolates. All isolates exhibited low biofilm formation at 20 °C, however, at 30 °C persistent isolates showed significantly higher biofilm formation after 48 h using cell enumeration and near significant difference using the crystal violet assay. All 16 isolates were motile at 20 °C and 30 °C and motility was fractionally higher for sporadic isolates, but no significant difference was observed. We found persistent isolates tend to exhibit greater recovery after incubation on dry surfaces compared to sporadic isolates. Two of the three most heat-resistant isolates were persistent, while four of five isolates lacking heat resistance were sporadic isolates. Comparison of genome sequences of persistent and sporadic isolates showed that there was no overall clustering of persistent or sporadic isolates, and that differences in prophages and plasmids were not associated with persistence. Our results suggest a link between persistence and biofilm formation, which is most likely multifactorial, combining subtle phenotypic and genotypic differences between isolates.

    HL Brown, M Reuter, LJ Salt, KL Cross, RP Betts, AH van Vliet (2014)Chicken juice enhances surface attachment and biofilm formation of Campylobacter jejuni, In: Applied and Environmental Microbiology80(22)pp. 7053-7060 American Society for Microbiology

    The bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is primarily transmitted via the consumption of contaminated foodstuffs, especially poultry meat. In food processing environments, C. jejuni is required to survive a multitude of stresses and requires the use of specific survival mechanisms, such as biofilms. An initial step in biofilm formation is bacterial attachment to a surface. Here, we investigated the effects of a chicken meat exudate (chicken juice) on C. jejuni surface attachment and biofilm formation. Supplementation of brucella broth with ≥5% chicken juice resulted in increased biofilm formation on glass, polystyrene, and stainless steel surfaces with four C. jejuni isolates and one C. coli isolate in both microaerobic and aerobic conditions. When incubated with chicken juice, C. jejuni was both able to grow and form biofilms in static cultures in aerobic conditions. Electron microscopy showed that C. jejuni cells were associated with chicken juice particulates attached to the abiotic surface rather than the surface itself. This suggests that chicken juice contributes to C. jejuni biofilm formation by covering and conditioning the abiotic surface and is a source of nutrients. Chicken juice was able to complement the reduction in biofilm formation of an aflagellated mutant of C. jejuni, indicating that chicken juice may support food chain transmission of isolates with lowered motility. We provide here a useful model for studying the interaction of C. jejuni biofilms in food chain-relevant conditions and also show a possible mechanism for C. jejuni cell attachment and biofilm initiation on abiotic surfaces within the food chain.

    AH van Vliet, JG Kusters (2015)Use of Alignment-Free Phylogenetics for Rapid Genome Sequence-Based Typing of Helicobacter pylori Virulence Markers and Antibiotic Susceptibility, In: Journal of Clinical Microbiology53(9)pp. 2877-2888 American Society for Microbiology

    Whole-genome sequencing is becoming a leading technology in the typing and epidemiology of microbial pathogens, but the increase in genomic information necessitates significant investment in bioinformatic resources and expertise, and currently used methodologies struggle with genetically heterogeneous bacteria such as the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. Here we demonstrate that the alignment-free analysis method feature frequency profiling (FFP) can be used to rapidly construct phylogenetic trees of draft bacterial genome sequences on a standard desktop computer and that coupling with in silico genotyping methods gives useful information for comparative and clinical genomic and molecular epidemiology applications. FFP-based phylogenetic trees of seven gastric Helicobacter species matched those obtained by analysis of 16S rRNA genes and ribosomal proteins, and FFP- and core genome single nucleotide polymorphism-based analysis of 63 H. pylori genomes again showed comparable phylogenetic clustering, consistent with genomotypes assigned by using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Analysis of 377 H. pylori genomes highlighted the conservation of genomotypes and linkage with phylogeographic characteristics and predicted the presence of an incomplete or nonfunctional cag pathogenicity island in 18/276 genomes. In silico analysis of antibiotic susceptibility markers suggests that most H. pylori hspAmerind and hspEAsia isolates are predicted to carry the T2812C mutation potentially conferring low-level clarithromycin resistance, while levels of metronidazole resistance were similar in all multilocus sequence types. In conclusion, the use of FFP phylogenetic clustering and in silico genotyping allows determination of genome evolution and phylogeographic clustering and can contribute to clinical microbiology by genomotyping for outbreak management and the prediction of pathogenic potential and antibiotic susceptibility.

    MT Le, M van Veldhuizen, I Porcelli, RJ Bongaerts, DJ Gaskin, BM Pearson, AH van Vliet (2015)Conservation of sigma28-Dependent Non-Coding RNA Paralogs and Predicted sigma54-Dependent Targets in Thermophilic Campylobacter Species, In: PLoS One10(10) Public Library of Science (PLoS)

    Assembly of flagella requires strict hierarchical and temporal control via flagellar sigma and anti-sigma factors, regulatory proteins and the assembly complex itself, but to date non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have not been described to regulate genes directly involved in flagellar assembly. In this study we have investigated the possible role of two ncRNA paralogs (CjNC1, CjNC4) in flagellar assembly and gene regulation of the diarrhoeal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. CjNC1 and CjNC4 are 37/44 nt identical and predicted to target the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) of genes transcribed from the flagellar sigma factor σ54. Orthologs of the σ54-dependent 5' UTRs and ncRNAs are present in the genomes of other thermophilic Campylobacter species, and transcription of CjNC1 and CNC4 is dependent on the flagellar sigma factor σ28. Surprisingly, inactivation and overexpression of CjNC1 and CjNC4 did not affect growth, motility or flagella-associated phenotypes such as autoagglutination. However, CjNC1 and CjNC4 were able to mediate sequence-dependent, but Hfq-independent, partial repression of fluorescence of predicted target 5' UTRs in an Escherichia coli-based GFP reporter gene system. This hints towards a subtle role for the CjNC1 and CjNC4 ncRNAs in post-transcriptional gene regulation in thermophilic Campylobacter species, and suggests that the currently used phenotypic methodologies are insufficiently sensitive to detect such subtle phenotypes. The lack of a role of Hfq in the E. coli GFP-based system indicates that the CjNC1 and CjNC4 ncRNAs may mediate post-transcriptional gene regulation in ways that do not conform to the paradigms obtained from the Enterobacteriaceae.

    LM Moons, JG Kusters, E Bultman, EJ Kuipers, H van Dekken, WM Tra, A Kleinjan, J Kwekkeboom, AH van Vliet, PD Siersema (2005)Barrett's oesophagus is characterized by a predominantly humoral inflammatory response, In: Journal of Pathology207(3)pp. 269-276 Wiley

    Barrett's oesophagus (BO) is thought to be an intermediate step in the progression from reflux oesophagitis (RO) to oesophageal adenocarcinoma. Premalignant conditions that develop in the presence of chronic inflammation are often associated with the development of a more pronounced humoral immune response during progression of the disease. The aim of this study was to determine whether BO is also associated with a more pronounced humoral immune response when compared to RO. Immunohistochemical studies were performed to quantify the mean numbers of Th2 effector cells (plasma cells and mast cells) and Th1 effector cells (macrophages and CD8+ T cells) to detect the antibody classes produced by plasma cells (IgA, IgG, IgM or IgE) and to determine the presence of isolated lymph follicles [segregated B and T cell areas, follicular dendritic cells (CD23) and expression of CXCL13] in 124 oesophageal biopsies from 20 patients with BO and 20 patients with RO. The proportion of Th2 effector cells was higher in BO than in RO, mainly due to higher numbers of plasma cells and mast cells in BO (p < 0.001). Most plasma cells in BO and RO expressed IgG, but several IgE+ plasma cells were detected in BO: these were rare in RO. In line with this, isolated lymph follicles were observed in 4/20 (20%) patients with BO, but not in RO. We therefore conclude that the inflammatory response is skewed towards a more pronounced humoral immune response when RO progresses to BO. It may be that this shift, which is similar to that found in other chronic inflammatory conditions, contributes to an increased cancer risk in BO.

    J Brunt, AH van Vliet, F van den Bos, AT Carter, MW Peck (2016)Diversity of the Germination Apparatus in Clostridium botulinum Groups I, II, III and IV, In: Frontiers in Microbiology71702 Frontiers Media

    Clostridium botulinum is a highly dangerous pathogen that forms very resistant endospores that are ubiquitous in the environment, and which, under favorable conditions germinate to produce vegetative cells that multiply and form the exceptionally potent botulinum neurotoxin. To improve the control of botulinum neurotoxin-forming clostridia, it is important to understand the mechanisms involved in spore germination. Here we present models for spore germination in C. botulinum based on comparative genomics analyses, with C. botulinum Groups I and III sharing similar pathways, which differ from those proposed for C. botulinum Groups II and IV. All spores germinate in response to amino acids interacting with a germinant receptor, with four types of germinant receptor identified [encoded by various combinations of gerA, gerB, and gerC genes (gerX)]. There are three gene clusters with an ABC-like configuration; ABC [gerX1], ABABCB [gerX2] and ACxBBB [gerX4], and a single CA-B [gerX3] gene cluster. Subtypes have been identified for most germinant receptor types, and the individual GerX subunits of each cluster show similar grouping in phylogenetic trees. C. botulinum Group I contained the largest variety of gerX subtypes, with three gerX1, three gerX2, and one gerX3 subtypes, while C. botulinum Group III contained two gerX1 types and one gerX4. C. botulinum Groups II and IV contained a single germinant receptor, gerX3 and gerX1, respectively. It is likely that all four C. botulinum Groups include a SpoVA channel involved in dipicolinic acid release. The cortex-lytic enzymes present in C. botulinum Groups I and III appear to be CwlJ and SleB, while in C. botulinum Groups II and IV, SleC appears to be important.

    Ioannis Sakaridis, R Ellis, S Cawthraw, Arnoud van Vliet, D Stekel, J Penell, Mark Chambers, Roberto La Ragione, Alasdair Cook (2018)Investigating the association between the caecal microbiomes of broilers and Campylobacter burden, In: Frontiers in Microbiology9927pp. 1-9 Frontiers Media

    One of the major transmission routes for the foodborne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter is undercooked poultry meat, contaminated from intestinal contents during processing. In broilers, Campylobacter can grow to very high densities in the caeca, and is often considered to be a commensal or an opportunistic pathogen in poultry. Reduction of caecal loads of Campylobacter may assist in lowering incidence rates of Campylobacter food poisoning. To achieve this, there needs to be a better understanding of the dynamics of Campylobacter colonisation in its natural niche, and the effect of the local microbiome on colonisation. Previous studies have shown that the microbiome differed between Campylobacter colonised and non–colonised chicken intestinal samples. To characterise the microbiome of Campylobacter-colonised broilers, caecal samples of 100 randomly selected birds from four farms were analysed using amplified 16S rRNA gene sequences. Bacterial taxonomic analysis indicated that inter-farm variation was greater than intra-farm variation. The two most common bacterial groups were Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes which were present in all samples and constituted 29.7 – 63.5% and 30.2 – 59.8% of the bacteria present, respectively. Campylobacter was cultured from all samples, ranging from 2 to 9 log10 CFU g-1. There was no clear link between Campylobacter counts and Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes or Tenericutes levels in the 16S rRNA Operational Taxonomic Unit (OTU)-based analysis of the caecal microbiome, but samples with high Campylobacter counts (> 9 log CFU g-1) contained increased levels of Enterobacteriaceae. A decrease in Lactobacillus abundance in chicken caeca was also associated with high Campylobacter loads. The reported associations with Lactobacillus and Enterobacteriaceae match changes in the intestinal microbiome of chickens and mice previously reported for Campylobacter infection, and raises the question about temporality and causation; as to whether increases in Campylobacter loads create conditions adverse to Lactobacilli and/or beneficial to Enterobacteriaceae, or that changes in Lactobacilli and Enterobacteriaceae levels created conditions beneficial for Campylobacter colonisation. If these changes can be controlled, this may open opportunities for modulation of chicken microbiota to reduce Campylobacter levels for improved food safety.

    M Reuter, PM Periago, F Mulholland, HL Brown, AH van Vliet (2015)A PAS domain-containing regulator controls flagella-flagella interactions in Campylobacter jejuni, In: Frontiers in Microbiology6770 Frontiers Media

    The bipolar flagella of the foodborne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni confer motility, which is essential for virulence. The flagella of C. jejuni are post-translationally modified, but how this process is controlled is not well understood. In this work, we have identified a novel PAS-domain containing regulatory system, which modulates flagella-flagella interactions in C. jejuni. Inactivation of the cj1387c gene, encoding a YheO-like PAS6 domain linked to a helix-turn-helix domain, resulted in the generation of a tightly associated “cell-train” morphotype, where up to four cells were connected by their flagella. The morphotype was fully motile, resistant to vortexing, accompanied by increased autoagglutination, and was not observed in aflagellated cells. The Δcj1387c mutant displayed increased expression of the adjacent Cj1388 protein, which comprises of a single endoribonuclease L-PSP domain. Comparative genomics showed that cj1387c (yheO) orthologs in bacterial genomes are commonly linked to an adjacent cj1388 ortholog, with some bacteria, including C. jejuni, containing another cj1388-like gene (cj0327). Inactivation of the cj1388 and cj0327 genes resulted in decreased autoagglutination in Tween-20-supplemented media. The Δcj1388 and Δcj0327 mutants were also attenuated in a Galleria larvae-based infection model. Finally, substituting the sole cysteine in Cj1388 for serine prevented Cj1388 dimerization in non-reducing conditions, and resulted in decreased autoagglutination in the presence of Tween-20. We hypothesize that Cj1388 and Cj0327 modulate post-translational modification of the flagella through yet unidentified mechanisms, and propose naming Cj1387 the Campylobacter Flagella Interaction Regulator CfiR, and the Cj1388 and Cj0327 protein as CfiP and CfiQ, respectively.

    HL Brown, M Reuter, K Hanman, RP Betts, AH van Vliet (2015)Prevention of biofilm formation and removal of existing biofilms by extracellular DNases of Campylobacter jejuni, In: PLoS One10e0121680 Public Library of Science (PLoS)

    The fastidious nature of the foodborne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni contrasts with its ability to survive in the food chain. The formation of biofilms, or the integration into existing biofilms by C. jejuni, is thought to contribute to food chain survival. As extracellular DNA (eDNA) has previously been proposed to play a role in C. jejuni biofilms, we have investigated the role of extracellular DNases (eDNases) produced by C. jejuni in biofilm formation. A search of 2791 C. jejuni genomes highlighted that almost half of C. jejuni genomes contains at least one eDNase gene, but only a minority of isolates contains two or three of these eDNase genes, such as C. jejuni strain RM1221 which contains the cje0256, cje0566 and cje1441 eDNase genes. Strain RM1221 did not form biofilms, whereas the eDNase-negative strains NCTC 11168 and 81116 did. Incubation of pre-formed biofilms of NCTC 11168 with live C. jejuni RM1221 or with spent medium from a RM1221 culture resulted in removal of the biofilm. Inactivation of the cje1441 eDNase gene in strain RM1221 restored biofilm formation, and made the mutant unable to degrade biofilms of strain NCTC 11168. Finally, C. jejuni strain RM1221 was able to degrade genomic DNA from C. jejuni NCTC 11168, 81116 and RM1221, whereas strain NCTC 11168 and the RM1221 cje1441 mutant were unable to do so. This was mirrored by an absence of eDNA in overnight cultures of C. jejuni RM1221. This suggests that the activity of eDNases in C. jejuni affects biofilm formation and is not conducive to a biofilm lifestyle. These eDNases do however have a potential role in controlling biofilm formation by C. jejuni strains in food chain relevant environments.

    Jessika Nowak, Sandra Visnovsky, Cristina D. Cruz, Graham Fletcher, Arnoud H.M van Vliet, Duncan Hedderley, Ruth Butler, Steve Flint, Jon Palmer, Andrew Pitman (2020)Inactivation of the gene encoding the cationic antimicrobial peptide resistance factor MprF increases biofilm formation but reduces invasiveness of Listeria monocytogenes, In: Journal of Applied Microbiology Wiley

    Aims To understand the genetics involved in surface attachment and biofilm formation of Listeria monocytogenes. Methods and Results An in vitro screen of a Himar1 transposon library of L. monocytogenes strain 15G01 identified three transposants that produced significantly different biofilm levels when compared to the wild-type strain; two mutants exhibited enhanced biofilm formation and one produced less biofilm biomass than the wild-type. The mutant 15G01 mprF::Himar1, which had a transposon insertion in the mprF gene, was selected 29 for further analysis. The mutant produced a more densely populated biofilm on solid surfaces such as 30 stainless steel and polystyrene, as determined using scanning electron and light microscopy. The 15G01 31 mprF::Himar1 mutant remained viable in biofilms, but showed an increase in sensitivity to the cationic 32 antimicrobial gallidermin. The mutant also displayed reduced invasiveness in CaCo-2 intestinal cells, 33 suggesting virulence properties are compromised by the inactivation of mprF. 34 Conclusions 35 Biofilm formation and gallidermin resistance of L. monocytogenes is influenced by mprF, but this trait is 36 associated with a compromise in invasiveness. 37 Significance 38 The presence of pathogenic microorganisms in the food processing environment can cause a significant 39 problem, especially when these microorganisms are established as biofilms. This study shows that the 40 inactivation of the mprF gene results in enhanced biofilm formation and abiotic surface attachment of 41 Listeria monocytogenes.

    C Belzer, JG Kusters, EJ Kuipers, AH van Vliet (2006)Urease induced calcium precipitation by Helicobacter species may initiate gallstone formation, In: Gut55(11)pp. 1678-1679 BMJ Publishing Group

    Helicobacter species can colonise the mammalian gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary tract which usually results in a chronic infection coupled to an inflammatory host response. It is therefore not surprising that colonisation with Helicobacter species is linked with a range of inflammation associated gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary diseases.1 Recently, this range has been expanded, with an association of infection with enterohepatic Helicobacter species and the formation of cholesterol gallstones.2 In their study, Maurer and colleagues2 demonstrated that murine infection with the enterohepatic Helicobacter species H bilis and H hepaticus accelerated the formation of cholesterol gallstones in mice fed a lithogenic diet. Although the gallbladder mucosa in mice with gallstones displayed signs of inflammation, Helicobacter species were not cultured from the inflamed gallbladder or bile. Therefore, Maurer et al hypothesised that the chronic immune stimulation caused by Helicobacter species, rather than a direct bacterial factor, led to the production of nucleating agents, thus indirectly linking …

    BM Pearson, R Louwen, P van Baarlen, AH van Vliet (2015)Differential Distribution of Type II CRISPR-Cas Systems in Agricultural and Nonagricultural Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni Isolates Correlates with Lack of Shared Environments, In: Genome Biology and Evolution7(9)pp. 2663-2679 Oxford University Press

    CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats)-Cas (CRISPR-associated) systems are sequence-specific adaptive defenses against phages and plasmids which are widespread in prokaryotes. Here we have studied whether phylogenetic relatedness or sharing of environmental niches affects the distribution and dissemination of Type II CRISPR-Cas systems, first in 132 bacterial genomes from 15 phylogenetic classes, ranging from Proteobacteria to Actinobacteria. There was clustering of distinct Type II CRISPR-Cas systems in phylogenetically distinct genera with varying G+C%, which share environmental niches. The distribution of CRISPR-Cas within a genus was studied using a large collection of genome sequences of the closely related Campylobacter species Campylobacter jejuni (N = 3,746) and Campylobacter coli (N = 486). The Cas gene cas9 and CRISPR-repeat are almost universally present in C. jejuni genomes (98.0% positive) but relatively rare in C. coli genomes (9.6% positive). Campylobacter jejuni and agricultural C. coli isolates share the C. jejuni CRISPR-Cas system, which is closely related to, but distinct from the C. coli CRISPR-Cas system found in C. coli isolates from nonagricultural sources. Analysis of the genomic position of CRISPR-Cas insertion suggests that the C. jejuni-type CRISPR-Cas has been transferred to agricultural C. coli. Conversely, the absence of the C. coli-type CRISPR-Cas in agricultural C. coli isolates may be due to these isolates not sharing the same environmental niche, and may be affected by farm hygiene and biosecurity practices in the agricultural sector. Finally, many CRISPR spacer alleles were linked with specific multilocus sequence types, suggesting that these can assist molecular epidemiology applications for C. jejuni and C. coli.

    HL Brown, K Hanman, M Reuter, RP Betts, AH van Vliet (2015)Campylobacter jejuni biofilms contain extracellular DNA and are sensitive to DNase I treatment, In: Frontiers in Microbiology6699 Frontiers Media

    Biofilms make an important contribution to survival and transmission of bacterial pathogens in the food chain. The human pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is known to form biofilms in vitro in food chain-relevant conditions, but the exact roles and composition of the extracellular matrix are still not clear. Extracellular DNA has been found in many bacterial biofilms and can be a major component of the extracellular matrix. Here we show that extracellular DNA is also an important component of the C. jejuni biofilm when attached to stainless steel surfaces, in aerobic conditions and on conditioned surfaces. Degradation of extracellular DNA by exogenous addition of DNase I led to rapid biofilm removal, without loss of C. jejuni viability. Following treatment of a surface with DNase I, C. jejuni was unable to re-establish a biofilm population within 48 h. Similar results were obtained by digesting extracellular DNA with restriction enzymes, suggesting the need for high molecular weight DNA. Addition of C. jejuni genomic DNA containing an antibiotic resistance marker resulted in transfer of the antibiotic resistance marker to susceptible cells in the biofilm, presumably by natural transformation. Taken together, this suggest that eDNA is not only an important component of C. jejuni biofilms and subsequent food chain survival of C. jejuni, but may also contribute to the spread of antimicrobial resistance in C. jejuni. The degradation of extracellular DNA with enzymes such as DNase I is a rapid method to remove C. jejuni biofilms, and is likely to potentiate the activity of antimicrobial treatments and thus synergistically aid disinfection treatments.

    Jason Brunt, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Andrew T. Carter, Sandra C. Stringer, Corinne Amar, Kathie A. Grant, Gauri Godbole, Michael W. Peck (2020)Diversity of the Genomes and Neurotoxins of Strains of Clostridium botulinum Group I and Clostridium sporogenes Associated with Foodborne, Infant and Wound Botulism, In: Toxins12(9) MDPI

    Clostridium botulinum Group I and Clostridium sporogenes are closely related bacteria responsible for foodborne, infant and wound botulism. A comparative genomic study with 556 highly diverse strains of C. botulinum Group I and C. sporogenes (including 417 newly sequenced strains) has been carried out to characterise the genetic diversity and spread of these bacteria and their neurotoxin genes. Core genome single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis revealed two major lineages; C. botulinum Group I (most strains possessed botulinum neurotoxin gene(s) of types A, B and/or F) and C. sporogenes (some strains possessed a type B botulinum neurotoxin gene). Both lineages contained strains responsible for foodborne, infant and wound botulism. A new C. sporogenes cluster was identified that included five strains with a gene encoding botulinum neurotoxin sub-type B1. There was significant evidence of horizontal transfer of botulinum neurotoxin genes between distantly related bacteria. Population structure/diversity have been characterised, and novel associations discovered between whole genome lineage, botulinum neurotoxin sub-type variant, epidemiological links to foodborne, infant and wound botulism, and geographic origin. The impact of genomic and physiological variability on the botulism risk has been assessed. The genome sequences are a valuable resource for future research (e.g., pathogen biology, evolution of C. botulinum and its neurotoxin genes, improved pathogen detection and discrimination), and support enhanced risk assessments and the prevention of botulism.

    FD Ernst, G Homuth, J Stoof, U Mader, B Waidner, EJ Kuipers, M Kist, JG Kusters, S Bereswill, AH van Vliet (2005)Iron-responsive regulation of the Helicobacter pylori iron-cofactored superoxide dismutase SodB is mediated by Fur., In: Journal of Bacteriology187(11)pp. 3687-3692 American Society for Microbiology

    Maintaining iron homeostasis is a necessity for all living organisms, as free iron augments the generation of reactive oxygen species like superoxide anions, at the risk of subsequent lethal cellular damage. The iron-responsive regulator Fur controls iron metabolism in many bacteria, including the important human pathogen Helicobacter pylori, and thus is directly or indirectly involved in regulation of oxidative stress defense. Here we demonstrate that Fur is a direct regulator of the H. pylori iron-cofactored superoxide dismutase SodB, which is essential for the defense against toxic superoxide radicals. Transcription of the sodB gene was iron induced in H. pylori wild-type strain 26695, resulting in expression of the SodB protein in iron-replete conditions but an absence of expression in iron-restricted conditions. Mutation of the fur gene resulted in constitutive, iron-independent expression of SodB. Recombinant H. pylori Fur protein bound with low affinity to the sodB promoter region, but addition of the iron substitute Mn2+ abolished binding. The operator sequence of the iron-free form of Fur, as identified by DNase I footprinting, was located directly upstream of the sodB gene at positions −5 to −47 from the transcription start site. The direct role of Fur in regulation of the H. pylori sodB gene contrasts with the small-RNA-mediated sodB regulation observed in Escherichia coli. In conclusion, H. pylori Fur is a versatile regulator involved in many pathways essential for gastric colonization, including superoxide stress defense.

    JG Kusters, AH van Vliet, EJ Kuipers (2006)Pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori infection, In: Clinical Microbiology Reviews19(3)pp. 449-490 American Society for Microbiology

    Helicobacter pylori is the first formally recognized bacterial carcinogen and is one of the most successful human pathogens, as over half of the world's population is colonized with this gram-negative bacterium. Unless treated, colonization usually persists lifelong. H. pylori infection represents a key factor in the etiology of various gastrointestinal diseases, ranging from chronic active gastritis without clinical symptoms to peptic ulceration, gastric adenocarcinoma, and gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma. Disease outcome is the result of the complex interplay between the host and the bacterium. Host immune gene polymorphisms and gastric acid secretion largely determine the bacterium's ability to colonize a specific gastric niche. Bacterial virulence factors such as the cytotoxin-associated gene pathogenicity island-encoded protein CagA and the vacuolating cytotoxin VacA aid in this colonization of the gastric mucosa and subsequently seem to modulate the host's immune system. This review focuses on the microbiological, clinical, immunological, and biochemical aspects of the pathogenesis of H. pylori.

    J Butcher, RA Handley, AH van Vliet, A Stintzi (2015)Refined analysis of the Campylobacter jejuni iron-dependent/independent Fur- and PerR-transcriptomes, In: BMC Genomics16498 BioMed Central

    Background The genome of Campylobacter jejuni contains two iron activated Fur-family transcriptional regulators, CjFur and CjPerR, which are primarily responsible for regulating iron homeostasis and oxidative stress respectively. Both transcriptional regulators have been previously implicated in regulating diverse functions beyond their primary roles in C. jejuni. To further characterize their regulatory networks, RNA-seq was used to define the transcriptional profiles of C. jejuni NCTC11168 wild type, Δfur, ΔperR and ΔfurΔperR isogenic deletion mutants under both iron-replete and iron-limited conditions. Results It was found that 202 genes were differentially expressed in at least one mutant under iron-replete conditions and 331 genes were differentially expressed in at least one mutant under iron-limited conditions. The CjFur and CjPerR transcriptomes characterized in this study were compared to those previously identified using microarray profiling and found to be more extensive than previously understood. Interestingly, our results indicate that CjFur/CjPerR appear to co-regulate the expression of flagellar biogenesis genes in an opposing and iron-independent fashion. Moreover the ΔfurΔperR isogenic deletion mutant revealed that CjFur and CjPerR can compensate for each other in certain cases, suggesting that both regulators may compete for binding to specific promoters. Conclusions The CjFur and CjPerR transcriptomes are larger than previously reported. In particular, deletion of perR results in the differential expression of a large group of genes in the absence of iron, suggesting that CjPerR may also regulate genes in an iron-independent manner, similar to what has already been demonstrated with CjFur. Moreover, subsets of genes were found which are only differentially expressed when both CjFur and CjPerR are deleted and includes genes that appear to be simultaneously activated by CjFur and repressed by CjPerR. In particular the iron-independent co-regulation of flagellar biogenesis by CjFur/CjPerR represents a potentially novel regulatory function for these proteins. These findings represent additional modes of co-regulation by these two transcriptional regulators in C. jejuni.

    JL Draper, LM Hansen, DL Bernick, S Abedrabbo, JG Underwood, N Kong, BC Huang, AM Weis, BC Welmer, Arnoud van Vliet, N Pourmand, JV Solnick, K Karplus, KM Ottemann (2017)Fallacy of the unique genome: sequence diversity within single Helicobacter pylori strains, In: mBio8(1)e02321-16 American Society for Microbiology

    Many bacterial genomes are highly variable but nonetheless are typically published as a single assembled genome. Experiments tracking bacterial genome evolution have not looked at the variation present at a given point in time. Here, we analyzed the mouse-passaged Helicobacter pylori strain SS1 and its parent PMSS1 to assess intra- and intergenomic variability. Using high sequence coverage depth and experimental validation, we detected extensive genome plasticity within these H. pylori isolates, including movement of the transposable element IS607, large and small inversions, multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms, and variation in cagA copy number. The cagA gene was found as 1 to 4 tandem copies located off the cag island in both SS1 and PMSS1; this copy number variation correlated with protein expression. To gain insight into the changes that occurred during mouse adaptation, we also compared SS1 and PMSS1 and observed 46 differences that were distinct from the within-genome variation. The most substantial was an insertion in cagY, which encodes a protein required for a type IV secretion system function. We detected modifications in genes coding for two proteins known to affect mouse colonization, the HpaA neuraminyllactose-binding protein and the FutB -1,3 lipopolysaccharide (LPS) fucosyltransferase, as well as genes predicted to modulate diverse properties. In sum, our work suggests that data from consensus genome assemblies from single colonies may be misleading by failing to represent the variability present. Furthermore, we show that high-depth genomic sequencing data of a population can be analyzed to gain insight into the normal variation within bacterial strains.

    Siddhartha Thakur, Joaquin M Prada, Jai W Mehat, Roberto M La Ragione, Arnoud Van Vliet (2022)Genomic Screening of Antimicrobial Resistance Markers in UK and US Campylobacter Isolates Highlights Stability of Resistance over an 18-Year Period, In: Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy66(5)e0168721

    Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are important bacterial causes of human foodborne illness. Despite several years of reduced antibiotics usage in livestock production in the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US), a high prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) persists in . Both countries have instigated genome sequencing-based surveillance programs for , and in this study, we have identified AMR genes in 32,256 C. jejuni and 8,776 C. coli publicly available genome sequences to compare the prevalence and trends of AMR in isolated in the UK and US between 2001 and 2018. AMR markers were detected in 68% of C. coli and 53% of C. jejuni isolates, with 15% of C. coli isolates being multidrug resistant (MDR), compared to only 2% of C. jejuni isolates. The prevalence of aminoglycoside, macrolide, quinolone, and tetracycline resistance remained fairly stable from 2001 to 2018 in both C. jejuni and C. coli, but statistically significant differences were observed between the UK and US. There was a statistically significant higher prevalence of aminoglycoside and tetracycline resistance for US C. coli and C. jejuni isolates and macrolide resistance for US C. coli isolates. In contrast, UK C. coli and C. jejuni isolates showed a significantly higher prevalence of quinolone resistance. Specific multilocus sequence type (MLST) clonal complexes (e.g., ST-353/464) showed >95% quinolone resistance. This large-scale comparison of AMR prevalence has shown that the prevalence of AMR remains stable for in the UK and the US. This suggests that antimicrobial stewardship and restricted antibiotic usage may help contain further expansion of AMR prevalence in but are unlikely to reduce it in the short term.

    Jai W Mehat, Roberto M La Ragione, Arnoud Van Vliet (2021)The Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) pathotype is comprised of multiple distinct, independent genotypes, In: Avian Pathology50(5)pp. 402-416 Taylor and Francis

    Avian Pathogenic E. coli (APEC) is the causative agent of avian colibacillosis, resulting in economic losses to the poultry industry through morbidity, mortality and carcass condemnation, and impacts the welfare of poultry. Colibacillosis remains a complex disease to manage, hampered by diagnostic and classification strategies for E. coli that are inadequate for defining APEC. However, increased accessibility of whole genome sequencing (WGS) technology has enabled phylogenetic approaches to be applied to the classification of E. coli and genomic characterisation of the most common APEC serotypes associated with colibacillosis O1, O2 and O78. These approaches have demonstrated that that the O78 serotype is representative of two distinct APEC lineages, ST-23 in phylogroup C and ST-117 in phylogroup G. The O1, and O2 serotypes belong to a third lineage comprised of 3 sub-populations in phylogroup B2; ST-95, ST-140 and ST-428/ST-429. The frequency with which these genotypes are associated with colibacillosis implicates them as the predominant APEC populations and distinct from those causing incidental or opportunistic infections. The fact that these are disparate clusters from multiple phylogroups suggests that these lineages may have become adapted to the poultry niche independently. WGS studies have highlighted the limitations of traditional APEC classification and can now provide a path towards a robust and more meaningful definition of the APEC pathotype. Future studies should focus on characterising individual APEC populations in detail and use this information to develop improved diagnostics and interventions.

    MARWA M. HASSAN, Owen Higgins, Alexandra Chueiri, Louise O'Connor, Sinéad Lahiff, Liam Burke, Dearbháile Morris, Nicola Maria Pfeifer, Belén González Santamarina, Christian Berens, Christian Menge, Manuela Caniça, Vera Manageiro, Veljo Kisand, MARWA M. HASSAN, Brian Gardner, Arnoud Van Vliet, Roberto Marcello La Ragione, Bruno Gonzalez-Zorn, Terry J. Smith (2022)Portable Differential Detection of CTX-M ESBL Gene Variants, bla(CTX-M-1) and bla(CTX-M-15), from Escherichia coli Isolates and Animal Fecal Samples Using Loop-Primer Endonuclease Cleavage Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification, In: Microbiology spectrum Amer Soc Microbiology

    CTX-M ESBL-producing E. coli is an increasing AMR public health issue with the transmission between animals and humans via zoonotic pathogens now a major area of interest. Accurate and timely identification of ESBL-expressing E. coli CTX-M variants is essential for disease monitoring, targeted antibiotic treatment and infection control. Cefotaximase-Munich (CTX-M) extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) enzymes produced by Enterobacteriaceae confer resistance to clinically relevant third-generation cephalosporins. CTX-M group 1 variants, CTX-M-1 and CTX-M-15, are the leading ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae associated with animal and human infection, respectively, and are an increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) global health concern. The bla(CTX-M-1) and bla(CTX-M-15) genes encoding these variants have an approximate nucleotide sequence similarity of 98.7%, making effective differential diagnostic monitoring difficult. Loop-primer endonuclease cleavage loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LEC-LAMP) enables rapid real-time multiplex pathogen detection with single-base specificity and portable on-site testing. We have developed an internally controlled multiplex CTX-M-1/15 LEC-LAMP assay for the differential detection of bla(CTX-M-1) and bla(CTX-M-15). Assay analytical specificity was established using a panel of human, animal, and environmental Escherichia coli isolates positive for bla(CTX-M-1) (n = 18), bla(CTX-M-15) (n = 35), and other closely related bla(CTX-Ms) (n = 38) from Ireland, Germany, and Portugal, with analytical sensitivity determined using probit regression analysis. Animal fecal sample testing using the CTX-M-1/15 LEC-LAMP assay in combination with a rapid DNA extraction protocol was carried out on porcine fecal samples previously confirmed to be PCR-positive for E. coli bla(CTX-M). Portable instrumentation was used to further analyze each fecal sample and demonstrate the on-site testing capabilities of the LEC-LAMP assay with the rapid DNA extraction protocol. The CTX-M-1/15 LEC-LAMP assay demonstrated complete analytical specificity for the differential detection of both variants with sensitive low-level detection of 8.5 and 9.8 copies per reaction for bla(CTX-M-1) and bla(CTX-M-15), respectively, and E. coli bla(CTX-M-1) was identified in all bla(CTX-M) positive porcine fecal samples tested.IMPORTANCE CTX-M ESBL-producing E. coli is an increasing AMR public health issue with the transmission between animals and humans via zoonotic pathogens now a major area of interest. Accurate and timely identification of ESBL-expressing E. coli CTX-M variants is essential for disease monitoring, targeted antibiotic treatment and infection control. This study details the first report of portable diagnostics technology for the rapid differential detection of CTX-M AMR markers bla(CTX-M-1) and bla(CTX-M-15), facilitating improved identification and surveillance of these closely related variants. Further application of this portable internally controlled multiplex CTX-M-1/15 LEC-LAMP assay will provide new information on the transmission and prevalence of these CTX-M ESBL alleles. Furthermore, this transferable diagnostic technology can be applied to other new and emerging relevant AMR markers of interest providing more efficient and specific portable pathogen detection for improved epidemiological surveillance.

    Ben P Jones, ARNOUD VAN VLIET, E James La Course, MARTHA ELIZABETH BETSON (2022)Identification of key interactions of benzimidazole resistance-associated amino acid mutations in Ascaris β-tubulins by molecular docking simulations, In: Scientific Reports1213725

    Ascaris species are soil-transmitted helminths that infect humans and livestock mainly in low and middle-income countries. Benzimidazole (BZ) class drugs have predominated for many years in the treatment of Ascaris infections, but persistent use of BZs has already led to widespread resistance in other nematodes, and treatment failure is emerging for Ascaris. Benzimidazoles act by binding to β-tubulin proteins and destabilising microtubules. Three mutations in the β-tubulin protein family are associated with BZ resistance. Seven shared β-tubulin isotypes were identified in Ascaris lumbricoides and A. suum genomes. Benzimidazoles were predicted to bind to all β-tubulin isotypes using in silico docking, demonstrating that the selectivity of BZs to interact with one or two β-tubulin isotypes is likely the result of isotype expression levels affecting the frequency of interaction. Ascaris β-tubulin isotype A clusters with helminth β-tubulins previously shown to interact with BZ. Molecular dynamics simulations using β-tubulin isotype A highlighted the key role of amino acid E198 in BZ-β-tubulin interactions. Simulations indicated that mutations at amino acids E198A and F200Y alter binding of BZ, whereas there was no obvious effect of the F167Y mutation. In conclusion, the key interactions vital for BZ binding with β-tubulins have been identified and show how mutations can lead to resistance in nematodes.

    Andre Becker S. Saidenberg, Arnoud H.M. van Vliet, Marc Stegger, Thor Bech Johannesen, Torsten Semmler, Marcos Cunha, Alessandro C. de O. Silveira, Eleine Kuroki Anzai, Isabel C.A. Scaletsky, Anders Dalsgaard, Roberto M. La Ragione, Terezinha Knöbl (2022)Genomic analysis of the zoonotic ST73 lineage containing avian and human extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC), In: Veterinary microbiology267109372 Elsevier B.V

    •Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli ST/CC73 are rarely reported in poultry.•Brazilian APEC ST/CC73 lack common APEC markers but harbor highly similar profiles to human ExPEC.•Phylogenetically, these APEC clustered closely with international UPEC/SEPEC human isolates. Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) is a globally distributed pathogen, with uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) and sepsis-associated E. coli (SEPEC) pathotypes particularly involved in human and companion animal disease, while avian pathogenic pathotype (APEC) severely impact poultry health and production. Similarities between APEC from poultry/meat and human ExPEC suggest that some APEC lineages may have zoonotic potential. ExPEC sequence type 73 (ST73) and its clonal complex (CC) are increasing causes of urinary tract infections and sepsis, but its role in zoonotic disease is less well understood. Here, we analyzed the genome sequences of 25 E. coli isolates from Brazil (11 APEC and 14 UPEC) from two time periods, from poultry producing areas and hospitals in the same geographical regions. Isolates were compared to 558 publicly available ST73/CC73 global sequences. Brazilian APEC harbored virulence factors associated with UPEC/SEPEC such as sfa, cnf1, vat, usp, hlyA, iron acquisition and protectins/serum resistance systems, while lacking some common APEC markers and widespread multidrug resistance. Analysis of core genome MLST and SNP phylogenetic trees indicated evolutionary relationships between subgroups of the Brazilian APEC to two contemporary Brazilian UPEC isolates from the same region, and one Brazilian UPEC available from another study. Phylogenies showed a non-host, geographical, or pathotype specificity, with APEC isolates clustering closely with international human UPEC, SEPEC. The remaining Brazilian UPEC grouped within human clusters. Collectively, this suggests a zoonotic potential for subgroups of Brazilian APEC from the ST73 lineage that could contaminate poultry products and subsequently cause human infection.

    Nicholas M. Thomson, Rachel Gilroy, Maria Getino, Ebenezer Foster-Nyarko, Arnoud H. M. van Vliet, Roberto M. La Ragione, Mark J. Pallen (2022)Remarkable genomic diversity among Escherichia isolates recovered from healthy chickens, In: PeerJ (San Francisco, CA)10e12935 Peerj Inc

    The genus Escherichia has been extensively studied and it is known to encompass a range of commensal and pathogenic bacteria that primarily inhabit the gastrointestinal tracts of warm-blooded vertebrates. However, the presence of E. coli as a model organism and potential pathogen has diverted attention away from commensal strains and other species in the genus. To investigate the diversity of Escherichia in healthy chickens, we collected fecal samples from antibiotic-free Lohmann Brown layer hens and determined the genome sequences of 100 isolates, 81 of which were indistinguishable at the HC0 level of the Hierarchical Clustering of Core Genome Multi-Locus Sequence Typing scheme. Despite initial selection on CHROMagar Orientation medium, which is considered selective for E. coli, in silico phylotyping and core genome single nucleotide polymorphism analysis revealed the presence of at least one representative of all major clades of Escherichia, except for E. albertii, Shigella, and E. coli phylogroup B2 and cryptic clade I. The most frequent phylogenomic groups were E. coli phylogroups A and B1 and E. ruysiae (clades III and IV). We compiled a collection of reference strains isolated from avian sources (predominantly chicken), representing every Escherichia phylogroup and species, and used it to confirm the phylogeny and diversity of our isolates. Overall, the isolates carried low numbers of the virulence and antibiotic resistance genes typically seen in avian pathogenic E. coli. Notably, the clades not recovered are ones that have been most strongly associated with virulence by other studies.

    Arnoud H M van Vliet, MARWA M. HASSAN, Owen Higgins, LA Burke, Louise O'Connor, D Morris, ROBERTO MARCELLO LA RAGIONE, TC Smith (2020)WorldCOM Deliverable 1: Prevalence of ESBL subtypes in bacterial pathogens and a sequence database of selected alleles Zenodo

    OHEJP Project: WorldCOM, Deliverable 1, Work Package 1. This dataset is connected to Work Package 1, Task1 of the WorldCOM consortium grant within the One Health EJP group. The aim was to analyse publicly available sequences for antimicrobial resistance genes associated with Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. For the initial phase of this work package, we have focused on ESBL-related AMR genes. As these genes are absent from Campylobacter, we have not included this bacterium in these analyses, and have used the important pathogens Klebsiella and Acinetobacter. All types and subtypes of Extended Spectrum β-Lactamases (ESBLs) and plasmid-mediated colistin resistance genes have been analysed for frequency among reported and extracted sequences. High frequency resistant genes subtypes have been highlighted for further sequence analysis to illustrate geographic distribution and geographic-specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The data shown are work in progress.