Molecular characterisation of Mycobacterium bovis isolated from African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Onderstepoort J Vet Res. 2011 Jun 20;78(1):232. doi: 10.4102/ojvr.v78i1.232.


Bovine tuberculosis (BTB), a chronic disease of mammals caused by Mycobacterium bovis, is a threat to South African wildlife. It has been reported that African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) are reservoir hosts of BTB in South African wildlife populations. This study reports on the molecular identification and typing of 31 M. bovis isolates collected between 1993 and 2008, mainly from buffaloes but also from two lions and a bush pig, in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) in KwaZulu-Natal. To study the dynamics of BTB in the buffalo populations, 28 M. bovis isolates from the HiP and epidemiologically related parks were characterised using regions of difference deletion analysis for species identification and spoligotyping, variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR), polymorphic G-C-rich sequences and IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) genotyping methods. At least three distinct M. bovis genotypes were found amongst HiP samples. The combination of VNTR typing (using a 16-loci panel) and IS6110 RFLP revealed the presence of three additional genetic profiles in individual buffaloes, demonstrating that the highest level of discrimination was achieved by these typing methods. One of the observed spoligotypes (SB0130) was dominant and represented 75% of isolates from buffaloes. A novel M. bovis spoligotype (SB1474), which is reported for the first time in this study, was observed in 14.3% of isolates from buffaloes. Based on the observed genetic relationships, the findings suggest independent introductions from at least three unrelated sources. These findings improve the knowledge regarding the diversity of circulating M. bovis strains in the HiP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / microbiology
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques / veterinary
  • Buffaloes / microbiology*
  • Cattle
  • Disease Reservoirs / microbiology
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Minisatellite Repeats
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium bovis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium bovis / isolation & purification*
  • Parks, Recreational
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / microbiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Bovine / transmission