Diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the Middle Fly District of Western Province, Papua New Guinea: microbead-based spoligotyping using DNA from Ziehl-Neelsen-stained microscopy preparations

Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 29;9(1):15549. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51892-5.


Tuberculosis remains the world's leading cause of death from an infectious agent, and is a serious health problem in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with an estimated 36,000 new cases each year. This study describes the genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis among tuberculosis patients in the Balimo/Bamu region in the Middle Fly District of Western Province in PNG, and investigates rifampicin resistance-associated mutations. Archived Ziehl-Neelsen-stained sputum smears were used to conduct microbead-based spoligotyping and assess genotypic resistance. Among the 162 samples included, 80 (49.4%) generated spoligotyping patterns (n = 23), belonging predominantly to the L2 Lineage (44%) and the L4 Lineage (30%). This is consistent with what has been found in other PNG regions geographically distant from Middle Fly District of Western Province, but is different from neighbouring South-East Asian countries. Rifampicin resistance was identified in 7.8% of the successfully sequenced samples, with all resistant samples belonging to the L2/Beijing Lineage. A high prevalence of mixed L2/L4 profiles was suggestive of polyclonal infection in the region, although this would need to be confirmed. The method described here could be a game-changer in resource-limited countries where large numbers of archived smear slides could be used for retrospective (and prospective) studies of M. tuberculosis genetic epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Papua New Guinea / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sputum / microbiology*
  • Tuberculosis* / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis* / genetics


  • DNA, Bacterial