Clones C and PA14 are the worldwide most abundant clonal complexes in the Pseudomonas aeruginosa population. The microevolution of clones C and PA14 was investigated in serial cystic fibrosis (CF) airway isolates collected over 20 years since the onset of colonization. Intraclonal evolution in CF lungs was resolved by genome sequencing of first, intermediate and late isolates and subsequent multimarker SNP genotyping of the whole strain panel. Mapping of sequence reads onto the P. aeruginosa PA14 reference genome unravelled an intraclonal and interclonal sequence diversity of 0.0035% and 0.68% respectively. Clone PA14 diversified into three branches in the patient's lungs, and the PA14 population acquired 15 nucleotide substitutions and a large deletion during the observation period. The clone C genome remained invariant during the first 3 years in CF lungs; however, 15 years later 947 transitions and 12 transversions were detected in a clone C mutL mutant strain. Key mutations occurred in retS, RNA polymerase, multidrug transporter, virulence and denitrification genes. Late clone C and PA14 persistors in the CF lungs were compromised in growth and cytotoxicity, but their mutation frequency was normal even in mutL mutant clades.
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