Host-associated genetic import in Campylobacter jejuni.
McCarthy ND., Colles FM., Dingle KE., Bagnall MC., Manning G., Maiden MCJ., Falush D.
Host association of Campylobacter jejuni was analyzed by using multilocus sequence typing data for 713 isolates from chickens and bovids (cattle and sheep). Commonly used summary measures of genotypes (sequence type and clonal complex) showed poor accuracy, but a method using the full allelic profile showed 80% accuracy in distinguishing isolates from these 2 host groups. We explored the biologic basis of more accurate results with allelic profiles. Strains isolated from specific hosts have imported a substantial number of alleles while circulating in those host species. These results imply that 1) although Campylobacter moves frequently between hosts, most transmission is within species, and 2) lineages can acquire a host signature and potentially adapt to the host through recombination. Assignment using this signature enables improved prediction of source for pathogens that undergo frequent genetic recombination.