Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been constructive in understanding its evolution, genetic diversity and the mechanisms involved in drug resistance. A large number of sequencing efforts from across the globe have revealed genetic diversity among clinical isolates and the genetic determinants for their resistance to anti-tubercular drugs. Considering the high TB burden in India, the availability of WGS studies is limited. Here we present, WGS results of 200 clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis from North India which are categorized as sensitive to first-line drugs, mono-resistant, multi-drug resistant and pre-extensively drug resistant isolates. WGS revealed that 20% of the isolates were co-infected with M. tuberculosis and non-tuberculous mycobacteria species. We identified 12,802 novel genetic variations in M. tuberculosis isolates including 343 novel SNVs in 38 genes which are known to be associated with drug resistance and are not currently used in the diagnostic kits for detection of drug resistant TB. We also identified M. tuberculosis lineage 3 to be predominant in the northern region of India. Additionally, several novel SNVs, which may potentially confer drug resistance were found to be enriched in the drug resistant isolates sampled. This study highlights the significance of employing WGS in diagnosis and for monitoring further development of MDR-TB strains.
Keywords: fluoroquinolones; metagenomics; molecular genotyping; mycobacterial genetic heterogeneity; next generation sequencing.