Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are important bacterial enteropathogens. Poultry is the best-known reservoir for Campylobacter infection but natural bodies of water have also been shown to be important pathways for transmission. Campylobacter can survive in cold water but most of the studies have focused on C. jejuni only. In this paper, we take a closer look at the biology and water survival strategies of C. coli. Eight C. coli isolates cultivated from raw (incoming) surface water at water plants in Sweden were characterized using whole-genome sequencing and phenotypical assays. Phylogenetic analysis assigned the Swedish water isolates to clades 2 and 3, known to include C. coli of environmental origin. In addition, 53 earlier published sequences of C. coli clade 2 and 3 from environmental waters were included for in silico analyses. Generally, clade 2 isolates had larger genomes, which included a functional tricarballylate utilization locus, while clade 3 isolates contained different genes involved in oxidative stress as well as putative virulence factors. The Swedish water isolates of clade 2 formed large, blurry bacterial colonies on agar, whereas clade 3 colonies were smaller. All Swedish isolates were motile, but clade 3 isolates formed larger motility zones on soft agar, and none of these isolates produced biofilm. Although water survival varied between the analyzed isolates, there were hardly any clade-specific significant differences. Our results highlight the diversity of C. coli in general, and show differences in metabolic capabilities and ways to handle oxidative stress between clade 2 and 3 water isolates.
Keywords: Campylobacter coli; phenotypic identification; waterborne pathogens; whole-genome sequencing.
© 2018 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.