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The roles of antimicrobial resistance, phage diversity, isolation source, and selection in shaping the genomic architecture of Bacillus anthracis

August 17, 2021

Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax disease, is a worldwide threat to livestock, wildlife and public health. While analyses of genetic data from across the globe have increased our understanding of this bacterium’s population genomic structure, the influence of selective pressures on this successful pathogen is not well understood. In this study, we investigate the effects of antimicrobial resistance, phage diversity, geography and isolation source in shaping population genomic structure. We also identify a suite of candidate genes potentially under selection, driving patterns of diversity across 356 globally extant B. anthracis genomes. We report ten antimicrobial resistance genes and 11 different prophage sequences, resulting in the first large-scale documentation of these genetic anomalies for this pathogen. Results of random forest classification suggest genomic structure may be driven by a combination of antimicrobial resistance, geography and isolation source, specific to the population cluster examined. We found strong evidence that a recombination event linked to a gene involved in protein synthesis may be responsible for phenotypic differences between comparatively disparate populations. We also offer a list of genes for further examination of B. anthracis evolution, based on high-impact single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and clustered mutations. The information presented here sheds new light on the factors driving genomic structure in this notorious pathogen and may act as a road map for future studies aimed at understanding functional differences in terms of B. anthracis biogeography, virulence and evolution.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title The roles of antimicrobial resistance, phage diversity, isolation source, and selection in shaping the genomic architecture of Bacillus anthracis
DOI 10.1099/mgen.0.000616
Authors Spencer A. Bruce, Yen-Hua Huang, Pauline L. Kamath, Henriette van Heerden, Wendy Christine Turner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Microbial Genomics
Series Number
Index ID 70229104
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown

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