Infection, genetics and evolution : journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases

Genomic comparison between pathogenic Streptococcus agalactiae isolated from Nile tilapia in Thailand and fish-derived ST7 strains.

PMID 26455417


Streptococcus agalactiae, or Group B streptococcus (GBS), is a highly virulent pathogen in aquatic animals, causing huge mortalities worldwide. In Thailand, the serotype Ia, β-hemolytic GBS, belonging to sequence type (ST) 7 of clonal complex (CC) 7, was found to be the major cause of streptococcosis outbreaks in fish farms. In this study, we performed an in silico genomic comparison, aiming to investigate the phylogenetic relationship between the pathogenic fish strains of Thai ST7 and other ST7 from different hosts and geographical origins. In general, the genomes of Thai ST7 strains are closely related to other fish ST7s, as the core genome is shared by 92-95% of any individual fish ST7 genome. Among the fish ST7 genomes, we observed only small dissimilarities, based on the analysis of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs), surface protein markers, insertions sequence (IS) elements and putative virulence genes. The phylogenetic tree based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the core genome sequences clearly categorized the ST7 strains according to their geographical and host origins, with the human ST7 being genetically distant from other fish ST7 strains. A pan-genome analysis of ST7 strains detected a 48-kb gene island specifically in the Thai ST7 isolates. The orientations and predicted amino acid sequences of the genes in the island closely matched those of Tn5252, a streptococcal conjugative transposon, in GBS 2603V/R serotype V, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus suis. Thus, it was presumed that Thai ST7 acquired this Tn5252 homologue from related streptococci. The close phylogenetic relationship between the fish ST7 strains suggests that these strains were derived from a common ancestor and have diverged in different geographical regions and in different hosts.