Genetic diversity and spatial distribution of Burkholderia mallei by core genome-based multilocus sequence typing analysis

PLoS One. 2022 Jul 6;17(7):e0270499. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270499. eCollection 2022.


Burkholderia mallei is the etiological agent of glanders, a highly contagious and often fatal disease in equids. Due to the high genetic clonality of B. mallei, high-resolution typing assays are necessary to differentiate between individual strains. Here we report on the development and validation of a robust and reproducible core genome-based Multi Locus Sequence Typing Assay (cgMLST) for B. mallei, which is based on 3328 gene targets and enables high-resolution typing at the strain level. The assay was validated using a set of 120 B. mallei genomes from public databases and 23 newly sequenced outbreak strains from in-house strain collections. In this cgMLST analysis, strains from different geographic regions were clearly distinguished by at least 70 allele differences, allowing spatial clustering while closely related and epidemiologically related strains were separated by only zero to three alleles. Neither the different sequencing technologies nor the assembly strategies had an influence on the cgMLST results. The developed cgMLST is highly robust, reproducible and can be used for outbreak investigations, source tracking and molecular characterization of new B. mallei isolates.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Burkholderia mallei* / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Genotype
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing / methods

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.