Phenotypic and genotypic discrimination of Francisella tularensis ssp. holarctica clades

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Abstract

Francisella tularensis is the causative agent of tularemia, a zoonotic disease with a wide host range. F. tularensis ssp. holarctica (Fth) is of clinical relevance for European countries, including Germany. Whole genome sequencing methods, including canonical Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (canSNP) typing and whole genome SNP typing, have revealed that European Fth strains belong to a few monophyletic populations. The majority of German Fth isolates belong to two basal phylogenetic clades B.6 (biovar I) and B.12 (biovar II). Strains of B.6 and B.12 seem to differ in their pathogenicity, and it has been shown that strains of biovar II are resistant against erythromycin. In this study, we present data corroborating our previous data demonstrating that basal clade B.12 can be divided into clades B.71 and B.72. By applying phylogenetic whole genome analysis as well as proteome analysis, we could verify that strains of these two clades are distinct from one another. This was confirmed by measuring the intensity of backscatter light on bacteria grown in liquid media. Strains belonging to clades B.6, B.71 or B.72 showed clade-specific backscatter growth curves. Furthermore, we present the whole genome sequence of strain A-1341, as a reference genome of clade B.71, and whole proteomes comparison of Fth strains belonging to clades B.6, B.71 and B.72. Further research is necessary to investigate phenotypes and putative differences in pathogenicity of the investigated different clades of Fth to better understand the relationship between observed phenotypes, pathogenicity and distribution of Fth strains.

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Köppen, K., Rydzewski, K., Doellinger, J., Myrtennäs, K., Forsman, M., Appelt, S., … Heuner, K. (2023). Phenotypic and genotypic discrimination of Francisella tularensis ssp. holarctica clades. International Journal of Medical Microbiology, 313(4). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmm.2023.151583

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