Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Produce Safety and Microbiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #304379

Research Project: Molecular Biology of Human Pathogens Associated with Food

Location: Produce Safety and Microbiology Research

Title: Campylobacter iguaniorum sp. nov., isolated from reptiles

Author
item Gilbert, Maarten - Utrecht University
item Kik, Marja - Utrecht University
item Miller, William - Bill
item Duim, Birgitta - Utrecht University
item Wagenaar, Jaap - Utrecht University

Submitted to: International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/17/2014
Publication Date: 1/8/2015
Citation: Gilbert, M.J., Kik, M., Miller, W.G., Duim, B., Wagenaar, J.A. 2015. Campylobacter iguaniorum sp. nov., isolated from reptiles. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 65(3):975-982.

Interpretive Summary: The food-borne pathogen Campylobacter is a natural contaminant of most birds and livestock. Campylobacters are generally restricted to warm-blooded animals, unlike other pathogens that can grow in the environment or on plants. However, a small subset of campylobacters, highly related to the livestock abortifacient species Campylobacter fetus, are commonly isolated from cold-blooded reptiles, for example snakes, iguanas and pet turtles. These reptile-derived campylobacters can cause illness in humans, presumably through contact and handling of reptiles, although transmission through consumption of reptile meat cannot be ruled out. This study characterizes a reptile Campylobacter strain through genome sequencing and determination of gene content. Results indicate that this strain is an example of a new Campylobacter species, designated here as Campylobacter iguaniorum sp. nov., related to C. fetus but distinct with usual (that is, non-C. fetus) Campylobacter membrane properties.

Technical Abstract: During samplings of reptiles for Epsilonproteobacteria, Campylobacter strains were isolated from lizards and chelonians not belonging to any of the established taxa. Initial AFLP, PCR, and 16S rRNA sequence analysis showed that these strains were most closely related to Campylobacter fetus and Campylobacter hyointestinalis. A polyphasic study was undertaken to determine the taxonomic position of five strains. The strains were characterized by 16S rRNA and atpA sequence analysis, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, and conventional phenotypic testing. The whole genome sequences were determined for strains 1485ET and 2463D, and the average nucleotide identity and average amino acid identity were determined for these strains. The strains formed a robust phylogenetic clade, divergent from all other Campylobacter taxa. In contrast to most currently known Campylobacter taxa, the strains showed growth at ambient temperatures, which might be an adaptation to their reptilian hosts. This study clearly shows that these strains isolated from reptiles represent a novel species within the genus Campylobacter, for which the name Campylobacter iguaniorum sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is 1485E (=LMG 28143T=ATCCxxxxx).