Molecular Characterization of the Recently Emerged Poultry Pathogen Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale by Multilocus Sequence Typing

PLoS One. 2016 Feb 1;11(2):e0148158. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148158. eCollection 2016.


Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale (ORT) is an economically important bacterial pathogen of turkeys and chickens worldwide. Since its first detection, a variety of typing methods have been used to gain basic knowledge about the bacterial population structure, an issue that still needs to be addressed. Serological characterization revealed at least 18 different serotypes (A-R) with ORT of serotype A to be predominate among poultry. This study aimed to establish a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme for ORT that could easily be used by other laboratories and allows for worldwide comparison of sequence data. For this purpose, 87 ORT strains from different poultry hosts, geographical origins, years of isolation and serotypes were included in the analysis to identify correlations. Fourteen different sequence types (ST) were found. The most common ST1 was identified in 40 ORT strains from turkeys and chickens on 4 continents and in 3 different European countries. Together with ST9, both STs represented over three quarters (77%) of ORT strains used in the MLST analysis and included strains of frequently cross-reacting ORT serotypes A, E and I. Nine STs were only represented by one ORT strain and might indicate possible avian host, disease or serotype-specific relationships. In contrast, discrepancies between serotype and phylogenetic relatedness were clearly demonstrated by ORT strains that belonged to identical serotypes but differed in their ST. The overall identified low genetic diversity among strains isolated from turkeys and chickens independent of host and geographical origins suggests that ORT has only recently been introduced into domestic poultry and dispersed worldwide.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Flavobacteriaceae Infections / veterinary*
  • Genes, Essential
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing*
  • Ornithobacterium / classification*
  • Ornithobacterium / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Poultry Diseases / microbiology*
  • Serogroup

Grants and funding

These authors have no support or funding to report.