Whole-genome sequencing for genetic diversity analysis of Iranian Brucella spp. isolated from humans and livestock

Brucellosis is one of the most common zoonoses in the Middle East. It is causing economic losses to the livestock industry and has a great public health concern. Little is known about the genetic diversity and distribution of brucellae in Iran. Therefore, forty Brucella spp. strains (B. abortus and B. melitensis) isolated from animals and humans were analyzed by whole genome sequencing (WGS) technology using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis and core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST). Brucella isolates were obtained from lymph nodes (cows and camels), milk (cows, camels and sheep), and aborted foetus samples (sheep and goats), as well as cerebrospinal fluid and blood of humans. The isolates were originating from thirteen provinces of Iran and isolated between 2015 and 2020. According to in-silico MLST, ST8 and ST2 were the most frequent sequence types in B. melitensis and B. abortus, respectively. Based on phylogeographic reconstruction using cgSNP analysis, the investigated Iranian B. melitensis strains belonged to the American and Mediterranean lineages of the B. melitensis phylogeny. Furthermore, cgSNP analysis revealed a similarity between Iranian B. abortus isolates and strains from Iraq and Egypt. Therefore, the origin of the Iranian strains can be suggested to be strains from neighboring and Middle East countries. Moreover, cgMLST analysis showed that the Iranian B. melitensis strains were closely relative to strains recovered from sheep and humans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan. In the current panel of strains, cgMLST and cgSNP analysis provided an appropriate and accurate tool for effective traceback analyses for Brucella spp. from Iran. The results of cgSNP and cgMLST helped to understand the geographic distribution and interspecies transmission of Iranian strains and highlight the importance of specific brucellosis control measures in Iran with regard to the One-Health approach.



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