Campylobacter jejuni is a highly diverse species of bacteria commonly associated with infectious intestinal disease of humans and zoonotic carriage in poultry, cattle, pigs, and other animals. The species contains a large number of distinct clonal complexes that vary from host generalist lineages commonly found in poultry, livestock, and human disease cases to host-adapted specialized lineages primarily associated with livestock or poultry. Here, we present novel data on the ST403 clonal complex of C. jejuni, a lineage that has not been reported in avian hosts. Our data show that the lineage exhibits a distinctive pattern of intralineage recombination that is accompanied by the presence of lineage-specific restriction-modification systems. Furthermore, we show that the ST403 complex has undergone gene decay at a number of loci. Our data provide a putative link between the lack of association with avian hosts of C. jejuni ST403 and both gene gain and gene loss through nonsense mutations in coding sequences of genes, resulting in pseudogene formation.
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