This study monitored the dynamics and diversity of the human faecal ‘Atopobium cluster’ over a 3-month period using a polyphasic approach. Fresh faecal samples were collected fortnightly from 13 healthy donors (six males and seven females) aged between 26 and 61 years. FISH was used to enumerate total (EUB338mix) and ‘Atopobium cluster’ (ATO291) bacteria, with counts ranging between 1.12×1011 and 9.95×1011, and 1.03×109 and 1.16×1011 cells (g dry weight faeces)−1, respectively. The ‘Atopobium cluster’ population represented 0.2–22 % of the total bacteria, with proportions donor-dependent. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) using ‘Atopobium cluster’-specific primers demonstrated faecal populations of these bacteria were relatively stable, with bands identified as Collinsella aerofaciens, Collinsella intestinalis/Collinsella stercoris, Collinsella tanakaei, Coriobacteriaceae sp. PEAV3-3, Eggerthella lenta, Gordonibacter pamelaeae, Olsenella profusa, Olsenella uli and Paraeggerthella hongkongensis in the DGGE profiles of individuals. Colony PCR was used to identify ‘Atopobium cluster’ bacteria isolated from faeces (n = 224 isolates). 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis of isolates demonstrated Collinsella aerofaciens represented the predominant (88 % of isolates) member of the ‘Atopobium cluster’ found in human faeces, being found in nine individuals. Eggerthella lenta was identified in three individuals (3.6 % of isolates). Isolates of Collinsella tanakaei, an ‘Enorma’ sp. and representatives of novel species belonging to the ‘Atopobium cluster’ were also identified in the study. Phenotypic characterization of the isolates demonstrated their highly saccharolytic nature and heterogeneous phenotypic profiles, and 97 % of the isolates displayed lipase activity.
During a succession of phocine morbillivirus outbreaks spanning the past 25 years, Bordetella bronchiseptica was identified as a frequent secondary invader and cause of death. The goal of this study was to evaluate genetic diversity and the molecular basis for host specificity among seal isolates from these outbreaks. MLST and PvuII ribotyping of 54 isolates from Scottish, English or Danish coasts of the Atlantic or North Sea revealed a single, host-restricted genotype. A single, novel genotype, unique from that of the Atlantic and North Sea isolates, was found in isolates from an outbreak in the Caspian Sea. Phylogenetic analysis based either on MLST sequence, ribotype patterns or genome-wide SNPs consistently placed both seal-specific genotypes within the same major clade but indicates a distinct evolutionary history for each. An additional isolate from the intestinal tract of a seal on the south-west coast of England has a genotype otherwise found in rabbit, guinea pig and pig isolates. To investigate the molecular basis for host specificity, DNA and predicted protein sequences of virulence genes that mediate host interactions were used in comparisons between a North Sea isolate, a Caspian Sea isolate and each of their closest relatives as inferred from genome-wide SNP analysis. Despite their phylogenetic divergence, fewer nucleotide and amino acid substitutions were found in comparisons of the two seal isolates than in comparisons with closely related strains. These data indicate isolates of B. bronchiseptica associated with respiratory disease in seals comprise unique, host-adapted and highly clonal populations.