Background: Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli are human intestinal pathogens that are the most frequent causes of bacterial foodborne gastroenteritis in humans in the UK. In this study, we aimed to characterise the metabolic diversity of both C. jejuni and C. coli using a diverse panel of clinical strains isolated from the UK, Pakistan and Thailand, thereby representing both the developed and developing world. Our aim was to apply multi genome analysis and Biolog phenotyping to determine differences in carbon source utilisation by C. jejuni and C. coli strains.
Results: We have identified a core set of carbon sources (utilised by all strains tested) and a set that are differentially utilised for a diverse panel of thirteen C. jejuni and two C. coli strains. This study used multi genome analysis to show that propionic acid is utilised only by C. coli strains tested. A broader PCR screen of 16 C. coli strains and 42 C. jejuni confirmed the absence of the genes needed for propanoate metabolism.
Conclusions: From our analysis we have identified a phenotypic method and two genotypic methods based on propionic utilisation that might be applicable for distinguishing between C. jejuni and C. coli.