Pseudomonas aeruginosa population structure revisited

Jean-Paul Pirnay, Florence Bilocq, Bruno Pot, Pierre Cornelis, Martin Zizi, J. Van Eldere, Pieter Deschaght, M Vaneechoutte, S. Jennes, T.l. Pitt, Daniel De Vos, Niyaz Ahmed (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

160 Citations (Scopus)


At present there are strong indications that Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibits an epidemic population structure; clinical isolates are indistinguishable from environmental isolates, and they do not exhibit a specific (disease) habitat selection.However, some important issues, such as the worldwide emergence of highly transmissible P. aeruginosa clones among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and the spread and ersistence of multidrug resistant (MDR) strains in hospital wards with high antibiotic pressure, remain contentious. To further investigate the population structure of P. aeruginosa, eight parameters were analyzed and ombined for 328 unrelated isolates, collected over the last 125 years from 69 localities in 30 countries
on five continents, from diverse clinical (human and animal) and environmental habitats. The analysed parameters were: i) O serotype, ii) Fluorescent Amplified-Fragment Length Polymorphism (FALFP) pattern, nucleotide sequences of outer membrane protein genes, iii) oprI, iv) oprL, v) oprD, vi) pyoverdine receptor gene profile (fpvA type and fpvB prevalence), and prevalence of vii) exoenzyme genes exoS and exoU and viii) group I pilin glycosyltransferase gene tfpO. These traits were combined and analysed using biological data analysis software and visualized in the form of a minimum spanning tree
(MST). We revealed a network of relationships between all analyzed parameters and non-congruence between experiments.At the same time we observed several conserved clones, characterized by an almost identical data set. These observations confirm the nonclonal epidemic population structure of P. aeruginosa, a superficially clonal structure with frequent recombinations, in which occasionally highly successful epidemic clones arise. One of these clones is the renown and widespread MDR serotype O12 clone. On the other hand, we found no evidence for a widespread CF transmissible clone. All but one of the 43 analysed CF strains belonged to a ubiquitous P. aeruginosa ''core lineage'' and typically exhibited the exoS+/exoU2 genotype and group B oprL and oprD alleles. This is to our knowledge the first report of an MST analysis
conducted on a polyphasic data set.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4(11):e7740
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2009

Bibliographical note

Niyaz Ahmed


  • Pseudomonas
  • Population
  • MLST
  • Cystic fibrosis

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