Characterization of water and wildlife strains as a subgroup of Campylobacter jejuni using DNA microarrays


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Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of human bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide, but source attribution of the organism is difficult. Previously, DNA microarrays were used to investigate isolate source, which suggested a non-livestock source of infection. In this study we analysed the genome content of 162 clinical, livestock and water and wildlife (WW) associated isolates combined with the previous study. Isolates were grouped by genotypes into nine clusters (C1 to C9). Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) data demonstrated that livestock associated clonal complexes dominated clusters C1–C6. The majority of WW isolates were present in the C9 cluster. Analysis of previously reported genomic variable regions demonstrated that these regions were linked to specific clusters. Two novel variable regions were identified. A six gene multiplex PCR (mPCR) assay, designed to effectively differentiated strains into clusters, was validated with 30 isolates. A further five WW isolates were tested by mPCR and were assigned to the C7-C9 group of clusters. The predictive mPCR test could be used to indicate if a clinical case has come from domesticated or WW sources. Our findings provide further evidence that WW C. jejuni subtypes show niche adaptation and may be important in causing human infection.