Pyrosequencing-based comparative genome analysis of Vibrio vulnificus environmental isolates

Shatavia S. Morrison, Tiffany Williams, Aurora Cain, Brett Froelich, Casey Taylor, Craig Baker-Austin, David Verner-Jeffreys, Rachel Hartnell, James D. Oliver, Cynthia J. Gibas

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Between 1996 and 2006, the US Centers for Disease Control reported that the only category of food-borne infections increasing in frequency were those caused by members of the genus Vibrio. The Gram-negative bacterium Vibrio vulnificus is a ubiquitous inhabitant of estuarine waters, and is the number one cause of seafood-related deaths in the US. Many V. vulnificus isolates have been studied, and it has been shown that two genetically distinct subtypes, distinguished by 16S rDNA and other gene polymorphisms, are associated predominantly with either environmental or clinical isolation. While local genetic differences between the subtypes have been probed, only the genomes of clinical isolates have so far been completely sequenced. In order to better understand V. vulnificus as an agent of disease and to identify the molecular components of its virulence mechanisms, we have completed whole genome shotgun sequencing of three diverse environmental genotypes using a pyrosequencing approach. V. vulnificus strain JY1305 was sequenced to a depth of 33×, and strains E64MW and JY1701 were sequenced to lesser depth, covering approximately 99.9% of each genome. We have performed a comparative analysis of these sequences against the previously published sequences of three V. vulnificus clinical isolates. We find that the genome of V. vulnificus is dynamic, with 1.27% of genes in the C-genotype genomes not found in the E- genotype genomes. We identified key genes that differentiate between the genomes of the clinical and environmental genotypes. 167 genes were found to be specifically associated with environmental genotypes and 278 genes with clinical genotypes. Genes specific to the clinical strains include components of sialic acid catabolism, mannitol fermentation, and a component of a Type IV secretory pathway VirB4, as well as several other genes with potential significance for human virulence. Genes specific to environmental strains included several that may have implications for the balance between self-preservation under stress and nutritional competence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37553
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2012

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