Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Wynn et al. BMC Microbiology (2022) 22:258


Open Access


Background: Moraxella bovis and Moraxella bovoculi both associate with infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), an economically significant and painful ocular disease that affects cattle worldwide. There are two genotypes of M. bovoculi (genotypes 1 and 2) that differ in their gene content and potential virulence factors, although neither have been experimentally shown to cause IBK. M. bovis is a causative IBK agent, however, not all strains carry a complete assortment of known virulence factors. The goals of this study were to determine the population structure and depth of M. bovis genomic diversity, and to compare core and accessory genes and predicted outer membrane protein profiles both within and between M. bovis and M. bovoculi.

Results: Phylogenetic trees and bioinformatic analyses of 36 M. bovis chromosomes sequenced in this study and additional available chromosomes of M. bovis and both genotype 1 and 2 M. bovoculi, showed there are two genotypes (1 and 2) of M. bovis. The two M. bovis genotypes share a core of 2015 genes, with 121 and 186 genes specific to genotype 1 and 2, respectively. The two genotypes differ by their chromosome size and prophage content, encoded protein variants of the virulence factor hemolysin, and by their affiliation with different plasmids. Eight plasmid types were identified in this study, with types 1 and 6 observed in 88 and 56% of genotype 2 strains, respectively, and absent from genotype 1 strains. Only type 1 plasmids contained one or two gene copies encoding filamentous haemagglutinin- like proteins potentially involved with adhesion. A core of 1403 genes was shared between the genotype 1 and 2 strains of both M. bovis and M. bovoculi, which encoded a total of nine predicted outer membrane proteins.

Conclusions: There are two genotypes of M. bovis that differ in both chromosome content and plasmid profiles and thus may not equally associate with IBK. Immunological reagents specifically targeting select genotypes of M. bovis, or all genotypes of M. bovis and M. bovoculi together could be designed from the outer membrane proteins identified in this study.