Diversity of Clostridium perfringens isolates from various sources and prevalence of conjugative plasmids

Anaerobe. 2016 Apr;38:25-35. doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 30.


Clostridium perfringens is an important pathogen, causing food poisoning and other mild to severe infections in humans and animals. Some strains of C. perfringens contain conjugative plasmids, which may carry antimicrobial resistance and toxin genes. We studied genomic and plasmid diversity of 145 C. perfringens type A strains isolated from soils, foods, chickens, clinical samples, and domestic animals (porcine, bovine and canine), from different geographic areas in the United States between 1994 and 2006, using multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) and/or pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). MLVA detected the genetic diversity in a majority of the isolates. PFGE, using SmaI and KspI, confirmed the MLVA results but also detected differences among the strains that could not be differentiated by MLVA. All of the PFGE profiles of the strains were different, except for a few of the epidemiologically related strains, which were identical. The PFGE profiles of strains isolated from the same domestic animal species were clustered more closely with each other than with other strains. However, a variety of C. perfringens strains with distinct genetic backgrounds were found among the clinical isolates. Variation was also observed in the size and number of plasmids in the strains. Primers for the internal fragment of a conjugative tcpH gene of C. perfringens plasmid pCPF4969 amplified identical size fragments from a majority of strains tested; and this gene hybridized to the various-sized plasmids of these strains. The sequences of the PCR-amplified tcpH genes from 12 strains showed diversity among the tcpH genes. Regardless of the sources of the isolates, the genetic diversity of C. perfringens extended to the plasmids carrying conjugative genes.

Keywords: Clostridium perfringens; Diversity; Epidemiology; PFGE; Plasmid.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Clostridium Infections / epidemiology*
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology*
  • Clostridium perfringens / classification
  • Clostridium perfringens / genetics*
  • Clostridium perfringens / isolation & purification
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Conjugation, Genetic*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Food Microbiology
  • Foodborne Diseases
  • Humans
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Plasmids / chemistry
  • Plasmids / genetics*
  • Prevalence
  • Soil Microbiology