Genomic epidemiology and evolution of Escherichia coli in wild animals

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
R. MurphyL. Parts


Escherichia coli is a common bacterial species in the gastrointestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals and humans. Pathogenic and antimicrobial resistance in E. coli may emerge via host switching from animal reservoirs. Despite its potential clinical importance, knowledge of the population structure of commensal E. coli within wild hosts and the epidemiological links between E. coli in non-human hosts and E. coli in humans is still scarce. In this study, we analysed the whole genome sequencing data of a collection of 119 commensal E. coli recovered from the guts of 68 mammal and bird species in Mexico and Venezuela in the 1990s. We observed low concordance between the population structures of E. coli colonizing wild animals and the phylogeny, taxonomy and ecological and physiological attributes of the host species, with distantly related E. coli often colonizing the same or similar host species and distantly related host species often hosting closely related E. coli. We found multiple livestock- and human-related virulence factor genes were present in E. coli of wild animals, including virulence factors characteristic for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and atypical enteropathogenic E. coli (aEPEC), where several isolates f...Continue Reading

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