Diversity and evolution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: moving to whole-genome-based approaches

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014 Sep 4;4(12):a021188. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a021188.


Genotyping of clinical Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) strains has become a standard tool for epidemiological tracing and for the investigation of the local and global strain population structure. Of special importance is the analysis of the expansion of multidrug (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains. Classical genotyping and, more recently, whole-genome sequencing have revealed that the strains of the MTBC are more diverse than previously anticipated. Globally, several phylogenetic lineages can be distinguished whose geographical distribution is markedly variable. Strains of particular (sub)lineages, such as Beijing, seem to be more virulent and associated with enhanced resistance levels and fitness, likely fueling their spread in certain world regions. The upcoming generalization of whole-genome sequencing approaches will expectedly provide more comprehensive insights into the molecular and epidemiological mechanisms involved and lead to better diagnostic and therapeutic tools.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biodiversity
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genotyping Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology


  • Antitubercular Agents