U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Bannantine JP, Conde C, Bayles DO, Branger M and Biet F (2020) Genetic Diversity Among Mycobacterium avium Subspecies Revealed by Analysis of Complete Genome Sequences. Front. Microbiol. 11:1701. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01701


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Mycobacterium avium comprises four subspecies that contain both human and veterinary pathogens. At the inception of this study, twenty-eight M. avium genomes had been annotated as RefSeq genomes, facilitating direct comparisons. These genomes represent strains from around the world and provided a unique opportunity to examine genome dynamics in this species. Each genome was confirmed to be classified correctly based on SNP genotyping, nucleotide identity and presence/absence of repetitive elements or other typing methods. The Mycobacterium avium subspeciesparatuberculosis (Map) genome size and organization was remarkably consistent, averaging 4.8 Mb with a variance of only 29.6 kb among the 13 strains. Comparing recombination events along with the larger genome size and variance observed among Mycobacterium avium subspecies avium (Maa) and Mycobacterium avium subspecies hominissuis (Mah) strains (collectively termed non-Map) suggests horizontal gene transfer occurs in non-Map, but not in Map strains. Overall, M. avium subspecies could be divided into two major sub-divisions, with the Map type II (bovine strains) clustering tightly on one end of a phylogenetic spectrum and Mah strains clustering more loosely together on the other end. The most evolutionarily distinct Map strain was an ovine strain, designated Telford, which had >1,000 SNPs and showed large rearrangements compared to the bovine type II strains. The Telford strain clustered with Maa strains as an intermediate between Map type II and Mah. SNP analysis and genome organization analyses repeatedly demonstrated the conserved nature of Map versus the mosaic nature of non-Map M. avium strains. Finally, core and pangenomes were developed for Map and non-Map strains. A total of 80% Map genes belonged to the Map core genome, while only 40% of non-Map genes belonged to the non-Map core genome. These genomes provide a more complete and detailed comparison of these subspecies strains as well as a blueprint for how genetic diversity originated.

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