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    Spatial epidemiology and natural population structure of campylobacter jejuni colonizing a farmland ecosystem

    French, Nigel, Barrigas, Mishele, Brown, Patrick, Ribiero, Paola, Williams, Nicola, Leatherbarrow, Howard, Birtles, Richard, Bolton, Eric, Fearnhead, Paul and Fox, Andrew J. (2005) Spatial epidemiology and natural population structure of campylobacter jejuni colonizing a farmland ecosystem. Environmental Microbiology, 7 (8). pp. 1116-1126. ISSN 1462-2912

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    Recent progress in determining the population structure of Campylobacter jejuni, and discerning associations between genotypes and specific niches, has emphasized the shortfall in our understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of this bacterium. We examined the natural structure of the C. jejuni community associated with cattle farmland in the UK by structured spatiotemporal sampling of habitats, including livestock and wild animal faeces, environmental water and soil, over a 10-week period within a 100 km2 area. A total of 172 isolates were characterized using multilocus sequence typing into 65 sequence types (STs). Isolates from cattle faeces were significantly over-represented in the ST-61 complex, whereas isolates from wildlife faeces and water were more likely to belong to the ST-45 complex and a number of unusual STs, many of which were first encountered during this study. Sampling within a narrow spatiotemporal window permitted the application of novel statistical methods exploring the relationship between the genetic relatedness and spatial separation of isolates. This approach showed that isolates from the same sampling squares and squares separated by <1.0 km were genetically more similar than isolates separated by greater distances. Our study demonstrates the potential of multilocus sequence typing combined with spatial modelling in exploring natural transmission pathways for C. jejuni.

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