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Phylogeographic separation and formation of sexually discrete lineages in a global population of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis

By Tristan Seecharran, Laura Kalin-Mänttäri, Katja A. Koskela, Simo Nikkari, Benjamin Dickins, Jukka Corander, Mikael Skurnik, Alan McNally

Posted 13 Jun 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/149468 (published DOI: 10.1099/mgen.0.000133)

Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a Gram negative intestinal pathogen of humans and has been responsible for several nation-wide gastro-intestinal outbreaks. Large-scale population genomic studies have been performed on the other human pathogenic Yersinia, Y. pestis and Y. enterocolitica allowing a high-resolution understanding of the ecology, evolution and dissemination of these pathogens. However, to date no large-scale global population genomic analysis of Y. pseudotuberculosis has been performed. Here we present analyses of the genomes of 134 strains of Y. pseudotuberculosis isolated from around the world, from multiple ecosystems since 1960s. Our data display a phylogeographic split within the population, with an Asian ancestry and subsequent dispersal of successful clonal lineages into Europe and the rest of the world. These lineages can be differentiated by CRISPR cluster arrays, and we show that the lineages are limited with respect to inter-lineage genetic exchange. This restriction of genetic exchange maintains the discrete lineage structure in the population despite co-existence of lineages for thousands of years in multiple countries. Our data highlights how CRISPR can be informative of the evolutionary trajectory of bacterial lineages, and merits further study across bacteria.

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