Genetic geography of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing genotype: a multifacet mirror of human history?

Infect Genet Evol. 2008 Dec;8(6):777-85. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2008.07.003. Epub 2008 Jul 22.


The Beijing genotype of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been shown in many settings to be hypervirulent and associated with multi-drug resistance. Its presently global and rapid dissemination makes it an important issue of public health. Here, I present a significantly enlarged update of the MIRU-VNTR global database of the M. tuberculosis Beijing genotype (11 loci). I further attempted to link the observed mycobacterial diversity with relevant events of the known human history. Large water masses have been the most efficient and drastic generators of the genetic divergence between human populations. The same situation appears true also for M. tuberculosis, which general diversity pattern amazingly resembles that of its human host. At the same time, less expected affinities observed between distant populations of M. tuberculosis may reflect hidden patterns of human migrations or yet unknown epidemiological links between distant regions.

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Genetic
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genotype
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Minisatellite Repeats*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • Phylogeny
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology*