Within-population diversity of koala Chlamydophila pecorum at ompA VD1-VD3 and the ORF663 hypothetical gene
D.P. Higgins*, T. Beninati, M. Meek, J. Irish, J.E. Griffith
Faculty of Veterinary Science, B14, University of Sydney, Australia
Infection of koalas by Chlamydophila pecorum is very common and causes significant morbidity, infertility and mortality. Fundamental to management of the disease is an understanding of the importance of multi-serotype infection or pathogen virulence in pathogenesis; these may need consideration in plans involving koala movement, vaccination, or disease risk assessment. Here we describe diversity of ompA VD1-3, and ORF663 hypothetical gene tandem repeat regions, in a single population of koalas with diverse disease outcomes. We PCR amplified and sequenced 72 partial ompA segments and amplified 25 tandem repeat segments (ORF663 hypothetical gene) from C. pecorum obtained from 62 koalas. Although several ompA genotypes were identified nationally, only one ompA genotype existed within the population studied, indicating that severe chlamydial disease occurs commonly in free-ranging koalas in the absence of infection by multiple MOMP serotypes of C. pecorum. In contrast, variation in tandem repeats within the ORF663 hypothetical gene was very high, approaching the entire range reported for pathogenic and non-pathogenic C. pecorum of European ruminant.