Multilocus Sequence Analysis Provides Insights into Molecular Epidemiology ofChlamydia pecorum Infections in Australian Sheep, Cattle, and Koalas
Martina Jelocnik, Francesca D. Frentiu, Peter Timms, Adam Polkinghorne
Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia
Chlamydia pecorum is a significant pathogen of domestic livestock and wildlife. We have developed a C. pecorum specific multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) scheme to examine the genetic diversity of and relationships between Australian sheep, cattle, and koala isolates. An MLSA of seven concatenated housekeeping gene fragments was performed using 35 isolates, including 18 livestock isolates (11 Australian sheep, one Australian cow, and six U.S. livestock isolates) and 17 Australian koala isolates. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the koala isolates formed a distinct clade, with limited clustering with C. pecorum isolates from Australian sheep. We identified 11 MLSA sequence types (STs) among Australian C. pecorum isolates, 10 of them novel, with koala and sheep sharing at least one identical ST (designated ST2013Aa). ST23, previously identified in global C. pecorum livestock isolates, was observed here in a subset of Australian bovine and sheep isolates. Most notably, ST23 was found in association with multiple disease states and hosts, providing insights into the transmission of this pathogen between livestock hosts. The complexity of the epidemiology of this disease was further highlighted by the observation that at least two examples of sheep were infected with different C. pecorum STs in the eyes and gastrointestinal tract. We have demonstrated the feasibility of our MLSA scheme for understanding the host relationship that exists between Australian C. pecorum strains and provide the first molecular epidemiological data on infections in Australian livestock hosts.