Main content area

Evolutionary genomics of epidemic and nonepidemic strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Dettman, Jeremy R., Rodrigue, Nicolas, Aaron, Shawn D., Kassen, Rees
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2013 v.110 no.52 pp. 21065-21070
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, antibiotics, biofilm, clones, cystic fibrosis, evolutionary adaptation, genes, genomics, genotype, heavy metals, humans, metabolism, morbidity, mortality, nucleotide sequences, oxidation, pathogenesis, pathogens, patients, population structure, secretion, North America, United Kingdom
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen of humans and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Prolonged infection of the respiratory tract can lead to adaptation of the pathogen to the CF lung environment. To examine the general patterns of adaptation associated with chronic infection, we obtained genome sequences from a collection of P. aeruginosa isolated from airways of patients with CF. Our analyses support a nonclonal epidemic population structure, with a background of unique, recombining genotypes, and the rare occurrence of successful epidemic clones. We present unique genome sequence evidence for the intercontinental spread of an epidemic strain shared between CF clinics in the United Kingdom and North America. Analyses of core and accessory genomes identified candidate genes and important functional pathways associated with adaptive evolution. Many genes of interest were involved in biological functions with obvious roles in this pathosystem, such as biofilm formation, antibiotic metabolism, pathogenesis, transport, reduction/oxidation, and secretion. Key factors driving the adaptive evolution of this pathogen within the host appear to be the presence of oxidative stressors and antibiotics. Regions of the accessory genome unique to the epidemic strain were enriched for genes in transporter families that efflux heavy metals and antibiotics. The epidemic strain was significantly more resistant than nonepidemic strains to three different antibiotics. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that selection imposed by the CF lung environment has a major influence on genomic evolution and the genetic characteristics of P. aeruginosa isolates causing contemporary infection.