Evolutionary history and global spread of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing lineage

Matthias Merker, Camille Blin, Stefano Mona, Nicolas Duforet-Frebourg, Sophie Lecher, Eve Willery, Michael G.B. Blum, Sabine Rüsch-Gerdes, Igor Mokrousov, Eman Aleksic, Caroline Allix-Béguec, Annick Antierens, Ewa Augustynowicz-Kopeć, Marie Ballif, Francesca Barletta, Hans-Peter Beck, Clifton E Barry III, Maryline Bonnet, Emanuele Borroni, Isolina Campos-HerreroDaniela Cirillo, Helen Cox, Suzanne Crowe, Valeriu Crudu, Roland Diel, Francis Drobniewski, Maryse Fauville-Dufaux, Sébastien Gagneux, Solomon Ghebremichael, Madeleine Hanekom, Sven Hoffner, Wei Wei Jiao, Stobdan Kalon, Thomas A. Kohl, Irina Kontsevaya, Troels Lillebæk, Shinji Maeda, Vladyslav Nikolayevskyy, Michael Rasmussen, Nalin Rastogi, Sofia Samper, Elisabeth Sanchez-Padilla, Branislava Savic, Isdore Chola Shamputa, Adong Shen, Li Hwei Sng, Petras Stakenas, Kadri Toit, Francis Varaine, Dragana Vukovic, Céline Wahl, Robin Warren, Philip Supply, Stefan Niemann, Thierry Wirth

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains of the Beijing lineage are globally distributed and are associated with the massive spread of multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis in Eurasia. Here we reconstructed the biogeographical structure and evolutionary history of this lineage by genetic analysis of 4,987 isolates from 99 countries and whole-genome sequencing of 110 representative isolates. We show that this lineage initially originated in the Far East, from where it radiated worldwide in several waves. We detected successive increases in population size for this pathogen over the last 200 years, practically coinciding with the Industrial Revolution, the First World War and HIV epidemics. Two MDR clones of this lineage started to spread throughout central Asia and Russia concomitantly with the collapse of the public health system in the former Soviet Union. Mutations identified in genes putatively under positive selection and associated with virulence might have favored the expansion of the most successful branches of the lineage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-249
Number of pages8
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • bacteriology
  • tuberculosis

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