Phylogenetic Placement of Isolates Within the Trans-Eurasian Clade A.Br.008/009 of Bacillus anthracis

Antwerpen, M., Bayer, W., Bassy, O., Ortega García, M. V., Cabria Ramos, J. C., Grass, G., Wolfel, R. 2019. Phylogenetic Placement of Isolates Within the Trans-Eurasian Clade A.Br.008/009 of Bacillus anthracis. Microorganisms 7, 12 DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms7120689

The largest phylogenetic lineage known to date of the anthrax pathogen Bacillus anthracis is the wide-spread, so-called Trans-Eurasian clade systematically categorized as the A.Br.008/009 group sharing two defining canonical single-nucleotide polymorphisms (canSNP). In this study, we genome-sequenced a collection of 35 B. anthracis strains of this clade, derived from human infections, animal outbreaks or soil, mostly from European countries isolated between 1936 and 2008. The new data were subjected to comparative chromosomal analysis, together with 75 B. anthracis genomes available in public databases, and the relative placements of these isolates were determined within the global phylogeny of the A.Br.008/009 canSNP group. From this analysis, we have detected 3754 chromosomal SNPs, allowing the assignation of the new chromosomal sequences to established sub-clades, to define new sub-clades, such as two new Spanish, one Bulgarian or one German group(s), or to introduce orphan lineages. SNP-based results were compared with that of a multilocus variable number of tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). This analysis indicated that MLVA typing might provide additional information in cases when genomics yields identical genotypes or shows only minor differences. Introducing the delayed mismatch amplification assay (DMAA) PCR-analysis, we developed a cost-effective method to interrogate for a set of ten phylogenetically informative SNPs within genomes of A.Br.008/009 canSNP clade strains of B. anthracis. By this approach, additional 32 strains could be assigned to five of ten defined clades.

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