MLST revisited: the gene-by-gene approach to bacterial genomics.
Maiden MCJ., Jansen van Rensburg MJ., Bray JE., Earle SG., Ford SA., Jolley KA., McCarthy ND.
Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) was proposed in 1998 as a portable sequence-based method for identifying clonal relationships among bacteria. Today, in the whole-genome era of microbiology, the need for systematic, standardized descriptions of bacterial genotypic variation remains a priority. Here, to meet this need, we draw on the successes of MLST and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to propose a hierarchical gene-by-gene approach that reflects functional and evolutionary relationships and catalogues bacteria 'from domain to strain'. Our gene-based typing approach using online platforms such as the Bacterial Isolate Genome Sequence Database (BIGSdb) allows the scalable organization and analysis of whole-genome sequence data.