Molecular and virulence characterization of highly prevalent Streptococcus agalactiae circulated in bovine dairy herds

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Abstract

Bovine mastitis caused by Streptococcus agalactiae continues to be one of the major veterinary and economic issues in certain areas of the world. The more prevalent S. agalactiae strains that cause bovine mastitis in China dairy farms belong to a number of bovine-adapted sequence types (STs) ST67, ST103 and ST568. However, it is unknown why these STs can emerge as highly prevalent clones in bovine dairy farms. Here, to determine if a variety of virulence characteristics were associated with these highly prevalent STs, the molecular and virulence characterization of 116 strains isolated from bovine, human, fish and environment were analyzed. Our data showed that all bovine-adapted strains could be assigned to capsular genotype Ia or II, and carried pilus island 2b, and lactose operon. Importantly, we demonstrated that the growth ability in milk, biofilm formation ability and adhesion ability to bovine mammary epithelial cells (BMECs) were significantly higher for all bovine-adapted strains compared to strains from other origins. Additionally, ST103 and ST568 strains exhibited significantly higher hemolytic activity and cytotoxicity than ST67 strains. In conclusion, our study provides substantial evidence for the hypothesis that the virulence characteristics including efficient growth in milk, elevated biofilm formation ability, together with strong adhesion ability might have favored the high prevalence of the STs in the bovine environment, whereas the hemolytic activity and cytotoxicity were not the crucial characteristics.

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Pang, M., Sun, L., He, T., Bao, H., Zhang, L., Zhou, Y., … Wang, R. (2017). Molecular and virulence characterization of highly prevalent Streptococcus agalactiae circulated in bovine dairy herds. Veterinary Research, 48(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13567-017-0461-2

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