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PLOS ONE  2013 

Identification of Genes to Differentiate Closely Related Salmonella Lineages

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055988

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Background Salmonella are important human and animal pathogens. Though highly related, the Salmonella lineages may be strictly adapted to different hosts or cause different diseases, from mild local illness like gastroenteritis to fatal systemic infections like typhoid. Therefore, rapid and accurate identification of Salmonella is essential for timely and correct diagnosis of Salmonella infections. The current identification methods such as 16S rRNA sequencing and multilocus sequence typing are expensive and time consuming. Additionally, these methods often do not have sufficient distinguishing resolution among the Salmonella lineages. Methodologies/Principal Findings We compared 27 completely sequenced Salmonella genomes to identify possible genomic features that could be used for differentiation of individual lineages. We concatenated 2372 core genes in each of the 27 genomes and constructed a neighbor-joining tree. On the tree, strains of each serotype were clustered tightly together and different serotypes were unambiguously separated with clear genetic distances, demonstrating systematic genomic divergence among the Salmonella lineages. We made detailed comparisons among the 27 genomes and identified distinct sets of genomic differences, including nucleotide variations and genomic islands (GIs), among the Salmonella lineages. Two core genes STM4261 and entF together could unambiguously distinguish all Salmonella lineages compared in this study. Additionally, strains of a lineage have a common set of GIs and closely related lineages have similar sets of GIs. Conclusions Salmonella lineages have accumulated distinct sets of mutations and laterally acquired DNA (e.g., GIs) in evolution. Two genes entF and STM4261 have diverged sufficiently among the Salmonella lineages to be used for their differentiation. Further investigation of the distinct sets of mutations and GIs will lead to novel insights into genomic evolution of Salmonella and greatly facilitate the elucidation of pathogeneses of Salmonella infections.


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