Dissemination and genetic diversity of chlamydial agents in Polish wildfowl: Isolation and molecular characterisation of avian Chlamydia abortus strains
Wild birds are considered as a reservoir for avian chlamydiosis posing a potential infectious threat to domestic poultry and humans. Analysis of 894 cloacal or fecal swabs from free-living birds in Poland revealed an overall Chlamydiaceae prevalence of 14.8% (n = 132) with the highest prevalence noted in Anatidae (19.7%) and Corvidae (13.4%). Further testing conducted with species-specific real-time PCR showed that 65 samples (49.2%) were positive for C. psittaci whereas only one was positive for C. avium. To classify the non-identified chlamydial agents and to genotype the C. psittaci and C. avium-positive samples, specimens were subjected to ompA-PCR and sequencing (n = 83). The ompA-based NJ dendrogram revealed that only 23 out of 83 sequences were assigned to C. psittaci, in particular to four clades representing the previously described C. psittaci genotypes B, C, Mat116 and 1V. Whereas the 59 remaining sequences were assigned to two new clades named G1 and G2, each one including sequences recently obtained from chlamydiae detected in Swedish wetland birds. G1 (18 samples from Anatidae and Rallidae) grouped closely together with genotype 1V and in relative proximity to several C. abortus isolates, and G2 (41 samples from Anatidae and Corvidae) grouped closely to C. psittaci strains of the classical ABE cluster, Matt116 and M56. Finally, deep molecular analysis of four representative isolates of genotypes 1V, G1 and G2 based on 16S rRNA, IGS and partial 23S rRNA sequences as well as MLST clearly classify these isolates within the C. abortus species. Consequently, we propose an expansion of the C. abortus species to include not only the classical isolates of mammalian origin, but also avian isolates so far referred to as atypical C. psittaci or C. psittaci/C. abortus intermediates.