Complete Genome Sequence of the Frog Pathogen Mycobacterium ulcerans Ecovar Liflandii

Nicholas Jay Tobias, Kenneth D Doig, Marnix H Medema, Honglei Chen, Volker Haring, Robert John Moore, Torsten Seemann, Timothy Paul Stinear

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39 Citations (Scopus)


In 2004, a previously undiscovered mycobacterium resembling Mycobacterium ulcerans (the agent of Buruli ulcer) was reported in an outbreak of a lethal mycobacteriosis in a laboratory colony of the African clawed frog Xenopus tropicalis. This mycobacterium makes mycolactone and is one of several strains of M. ulcerans-like mycolactone-producing mycobacteria recovered from ectotherms around the world. Here, we describe the complete 6,399,543-bp genome of this frog pathogen (previously unofficially named Mycobacterium liflandii ), and we show that it has undergone an intermediate degree of reductive evolution between the M. ulcerans Agy99 strain and the fish pathogen Mycobacterium marinum M strain. Like M. ulcerans Agy99, it has the pMUM mycolactone plasmid, over 200 chromosomal copies of the insertion sequence IS2404, and a high proportion of pseudogenes. However, M. liflandii has a larger genome that is closer in length, sequence, and architecture to M. marinum M than to M. ulcerans Agy99, suggesting that the M. ulcerans Agy99 strain has undergone accelerated evolution. Scrutiny of the genes specifically lost suggests that M. liflandii is a tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine auxotroph. A once-extensive M. marinum-like secondary metabolome has also been diminished through reductive evolution. Our analysis shows that M. liflandii, like M. ulcerans Agy99, has the characteristics of a niche-adapted mycobacterium but also has several distinctive features in important metabolic pathways that suggest that it is responding to different environmental pressures, supporting earlier proposals that it could be considered an M. ulcerans ecotype, hence the name M. ulcerans ecovar Liflandii.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556 - 564
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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