Molecular characterization of Glaesserella parasuis strains circulating in North American swine production systems
Background: Glaesserella parasuis is the causative agent of Glässer’s disease in pigs. Serotyping is the most common method used to type G. parasuis isolates. However, the high number of non-typables (NT) and low discriminatory power make serotyping problematic. In this study, 218 field clinical isolates and 15 G. parasuis reference strains were whole-genome sequenced (WGS). Multilocus sequence types (MLST), serotypes, core-genome phylogeny, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes, and putative virulence gene information was extracted. Results: In silico WGS serotyping identified 11 of 15 serotypes. The most frequently detected serotypes were 7, 13, 4, and 2. MLST identified 72 sequence types (STs), of which 66 were novel. The most predominant ST was ST454. Core-genome phylogeny depicted 3 primary lineages (LI, LII, and LIII), with LIIIA sublineage isolates lacking all vtaA genes, based on the structure of the phylogenetic tree and the number of virulence genes. At least one group 1 vtaA virulence genes were observed in most isolates (97.2%), except for serotype 8 (ST299 and ST406), 15 (ST408 and ST552) and NT (ST448). A few group 1 vtaA genes were significantly associated with certain serotypes or STs. The putative virulence gene lsgB, was detected in 8.3% of the isolates which were predominantly of serotype 5/12. While most isolates carried the bcr, ksgA, and bacA genes, the following antimicrobial resistant genes were detected in lower frequency; blaZ (6.9%), tetM (3.7%), spc (3.7%), tetB (2.8%), bla-ROB-1 (1.8%), ermA (1.8%), strA (1.4%), qnrB (0.5%), and aph3''Ia (0.5%). Conclusion: This study showed the use of WGS to type G. parasuis isolates and can be considered an alternative to the more labor-intensive and traditional serotyping and standard MLST. Core-genome phylogeny provided the best strain discrimination. These findings will lead to a better understanding of the molecular epidemiology and virulence in G. parasuis that can be applied to the future development of diagnostic tools, autogenous vaccines, evaluation of antibiotic use, prevention, and disease control.
Acknowledgements: We acknowledge the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Bacteriology section for their invaluable work carrying out the bacteriological culture of all study isolates. We thank the veterinarians and swine production systems for the sharing of isolates.