Metabolic phenotype of clinical and environmental Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis isolates

PeerJ. 2017 Jan 3;5:e2833. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2833. eCollection 2017.


Background: Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis (MAH) is an emerging opportunistic human pathogen. It can cause pulmonary infections, lymphadenitis and disseminated infections in immuno-compromised patients. In addition, MAH is widespread in the environment, since it has been isolated from water, soil or dust. In recent years, knowledge on MAH at the molecular level has increased substantially. In contrast, knowledge of the MAH metabolic phenotypes remains limited.

Methods: In this study, for the first time we analyzed the metabolic substrate utilization of ten MAH isolates, five from a clinical source and five from an environmental source. We used BIOLOG Phenotype MicroarrayTM technology for the analysis. This technology permits the rapid and global analysis of metabolic phenotypes.

Results: The ten MAH isolates tested showed different metabolic patterns pointing to high intra-species diversity. Our MAH isolates preferred to use fatty acids such as Tween, caproic, butyric and propionic acid as a carbon source, and L-cysteine as a nitrogen source. Environmental MAH isolates resulted in being more metabolically active than clinical isolates, since the former metabolized more strongly butyric acid (p = 0.0209) and propionic acid (p = 0.00307).

Discussion: Our study provides new insight into the metabolism of MAH. Understanding how bacteria utilize substrates during infection might help the developing of strategies to fight such infections.

Keywords: Biolog; Metabolism; Mycobacterium avium; OmniLog®; Phenotype microarray.

Grant support

This work was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG)-sponsored International Research Training Group (IRTG) entitled ‘Internationales Graduiertenkolleg –Functional Molecular Infection Epidemiology –GRK1673 (Berlin-Hyderabad)’ to AS and FD. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.