Reduced microbial diversity and high numbers of one single Escherichia coli strain in the intestine of colitic mice

Environ Microbiol. 2009 Jun;11(6):1562-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.01883.x. Epub 2009 Feb 24.


Commensal bacteria play a role in the aetiology of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). High intestinal numbers of Escherichia coli in IBD patients suggest a role of this organism in the initiation or progression of chronic gut inflammation. In addition, some E. coli genotypes are more frequently detected in IBD patients than others. We aimed to find out whether gut inflammation in an IBD mouse model is associated with a particular E. coli strain. Intestinal contents and tissue material were taken from 1-, 8-, 16- and 24-week-old interleukin 10-deficient (IL-10(-/-)) mice and the respective wild-type animals. Caecal and colonic inflammation was observed in IL-10(-/-) animals from the 8 weeks of life on accompanied by a lower intestinal microbial diversity than in the respective wild-type animals. Culture- based and molecular approaches revealed that animals with gut inflammation harboured significantly higher numbers of E. coli than healthy controls. Phylogenetic grouping according to the E. coli Reference Collection (ECOR) system and strain typing by random-amplified polymorphic DNA and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed that all mice were colonized by one single E. coli strain. The strain was shown to have the O7:H7:K1 serotype and to belong to the virulence-associated phylogenetic group B2. In a co-association experiment with gnotobiotic mice, the strain outnumbered E. coli ECOR strains belonging to the phylogenetic group A and B2 respectively. A high number of virulence- and fitness-associated genes were detected in the strain's genome possibly involved in the bacterial adaptation to the murine intestine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity*
  • Colitis / microbiology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Escherichia coli / classification
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification*
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Interleukin-10 / analysis
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Virulence


  • Interleukin-10