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Novel MLST sequence types of pathogenic Leptospira spp.: Opening the black box of animal leptospirosis in Brazil

Jaeger, LH, Pestana, CP, Correia, LFL, Carvalho-Costa, FA, Medeiros, MA, Lilenbaum, W
Acta tropica 2019 v.196 pp. 135-141
Leptospira santarosai, One Health initiative, alleles, animals, bacteria, genetic variation, hosts, leptospirosis, multilocus sequence typing, phylogeny, vaccine development, zoonoses, Brazil
In the current context of the emergence of certain infectious diseases and discussion of the One Health concept for many of these, the study of leptospirosis – both in domestic and wild hosts – cannot be neglected. The study of animal leptospirosis has evolved in recent years. It has been demonstrated that the human-animal-environment interface is more important than previously thought. In the present study, 35 strains of five pathogenic Leptospira species were isolated from different animal species in Brazil and characterized by rrs, secY, and Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) sequencing. Phylogenetic inferences were performed and the molecular diversity of the populations (intra- and inter-population levels) was evaluated. Among the five studied species, 18 different sequence types (STs) were found (22 new alleles and 11 new STs). eBURST analysis revealed two clonal complexes (CCs) and seven singletons. A high genetic diversity was demonstrated (H = 0.954 ± 0.017), mainly for the L. santarosai population (H = 0.942 ± 0.034, n = 20). The same strain was identified in different host species, as well as strains with zoonotic potential circulating in the country. Although the difficulty of culturing Leptospira strains is well known, the high variability of the strains found in Brazil highlights the importance of animals in maintaining the biological cycle of the bacterium in nature. Moreover, the selection of autochthonous strains for the development of vaccines becomes a challenge.