• Genomic characterization of Nontuberculous Mycobacteria

      Fedrizzi, T.; Meehan, Conor J.; Grottola, A.; Giacobazzi, E.; Fregni Serpini, G.; Tagliazucchi, S.; Fabio, A.; Bettua, C.; Bertorelli, R.; De Sanctis, V.; et al. (2017-03)
      Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae have remained, for many years, the primary species of the genus Mycobacterium of clinical and microbiological interest. The other members of the genus, referred to as nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), have long been underinvestigated. In the last decades, however, the number of reports linking various NTM species with human diseases has steadily increased and treatment difficulties have emerged. Despite the availability of whole genome sequencing technologies, limited effort has been devoted to the genetic characterization of NTM species. As a consequence, the taxonomic and phylogenetic structure of the genus remains unsettled and genomic information is lacking to support the identification of these organisms in a clinical setting. In this work, we widen the knowledge of NTMs by reconstructing and analyzing the genomes of 41 previously uncharacterized NTM species. We provide the first comprehensive characterization of the genomic diversity of NTMs and open new venues for the clinical identification of opportunistic pathogens from this genus.
    • The new phylogeny of the genus Mycobacterium: The old and the news

      Tortoli, E.; Fedrizzi, T.; Meehan, Conor J.; Trovato, A.; Grottola, A.; Giacobazzi, E.; Fregni Serpini, G.; Tagliazucchi, S.; Fabio, A.; Bettua, C.; et al. (2017-12)
      Background: Phylogenetic studies of bacteria have been based so far either on a single gene (usually the 16SrRNA) or on concatenated housekeeping genes. For what concerns the genus Mycobacterium these approaches support the separation of rapidly and slowly growing species and the clustering of most species in well-defined phylogenetic groups. The advent of high-throughput shotgun sequencing leads us to revise conventional tax-onomy of mycobacteria on the light of genomic data. For this purpose we investigated 88 newly sequenced species in addition to 60 retrieved from GenBank and used the Average Nucleotide Identity pairwise scores to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships within this genus.Results:Our analysis confirmed the separation of slow and rapid growers and the intermediate position occupied by the M. terrae complex. Among the rapid growers, the species of the M. chelonae-abscessus complex belonged to the most ancestral cluster. Other major clades of rapid growers included the species related to M. fortuitum and M. smegmatis and a large grouping containing mostly environmental species rarely isolated from humans. The members of the M. terrae complex appeared as the most ancestral slow growers. Among slow growers two deep branches led to the clusters of species related to M. celatum and M. xenopi and to a large group harboring most of the species more frequently responsible of disease in humans, including the major pathogenic mycobacteria (M.tuberculosis,M. leprae,M. ulcerans). The species previously grouped in the M. simiae complex were allocated in a number of sub-clades; of them, only the one including the species M. simiae identified the real members of this complex. The other clades included also species previously not considered related to M. simiae. The ANI analysis,in most cases supported by Genome to Genome Distance and by Genomic Signature-Delta Difference, showed that a number of species with standing in literature were indeed synonymous.Conclusions:Genomic data revealed to be much more informative in comparison with phenotype. We believe that the genomic revolution enabled by high-throughput shotgun sequencing should now be considered in order to revise the conservative approaches still informing taxonomic sciences.