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Establishment of a Publicly Available Core Genome Multilocus Sequence Typing Scheme for Clostridium perfringens

Clostridium perfringens is a spore-forming anaerobic pathogen responsible for a variety of histotoxic and intestinal infections in humans and animals. High-resolution genotyping aiming to identify bacteria at strain level has become increasingly important in modern microbiology to understand pathogen transmission pathways and to tackle infection sources. This study aimed at establishing a publicly available genome-wide multilocus sequence-typing (MLST) scheme for C. perfringens. A total of 1,431 highly conserved core genes (1.34 megabases; 50% of the reference genome genes) were indexed for a core genome-based MLST (cgMLST) scheme for C. perfringens. The scheme was applied to 282 ecologically and geographically diverse genomes, showing that the genotyping results of cgMLST were highly congruent with the core genome-based single-nucleotide-polymorphism typing in terms of resolution and tree topology. In addition, the cgMLST provided a greater discrimination than classical MLST methods for C. perfringens. The usability of the scheme for outbreak analysis was confirmed by reinvestigating published outbreaks of C. perfringens-associated infections in the United States and the United Kingdom. In summary, a publicly available scheme and an allele nomenclature database for genomic typing of C. perfringens have been established and can be used for broad-based and standardized epidemiological studies.

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