Clonal nature of Campylobacter fetus as defined by multilocus sequence typing.
van Bergen MAP., Dingle KE., Maiden MCJ., Newell DG., van der Graaf-Van Bloois L., van Putten JPM., Wagenaar JA.
Campylobacter fetus can be divided into the subspecies C. fetus subsp. fetus and C. fetus subsp. venerealis. C. fetus subsp. fetus causes sporadic infections in humans and abortion in cattle and sheep and has been isolated from a variety of sites in different hosts. C. fetus subsp. venerealis is host restricted, being isolated mainly from the genital tracts of cattle, and is the causative agent of bovine genital campylobacteriosis. Despite differences in niche preference, microbiological subspecies differentiation has proven difficult. Different typing methods divided C. fetus isolates into different subgroups, depending on the methods used. The relative value of these methods can be assessed by the evolutionary relationship of isolates belonging to the genus; therefore, we developed a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme for C. fetus. This scheme was applied to 140 C. fetus isolates previously typed by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis. A total of 14 different sequence types (STs) were identified, and these exhibited low levels of inter-ST genetic diversity, with only 22 variable sites in 3,312 nucleotides. These MLST data indicate that C. fetus is genetically homogeneous compared to the homogeneity of other Campylobacter species. The two C. fetus subspecies were extremely closely related genetically, but ST-4 was associated only with C. fetus subsp. venerealis, which represents a "bovine" clone. The C. fetus subsp. fetus isolates studied were more diverse in terms of their STs, and the STs correlated with epidemiological relationships. Congruence was observed among C. fetus subspecies, sap type, and ST; therefore, MLST confirms that mammalian C. fetus is genetically stable, probably as result of the introduction of a single ancestral clone into a mammalian niche.