Rapid Evolution and the Importance of Recombination to the Gastroenteric Pathogen Campylobacter jejuni

Wilson, Daniel J. and Gabriel, Edith and Leatherbarrow, Andrew J. H. and Cheesbrough, John and Gee, Steven and Bolton, Eric and Fox, Andrew and Hart, C. Anthony and Diggle, Peter J. and Fearnhead, Paul (2009) Rapid Evolution and the Importance of Recombination to the Gastroenteric Pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 26 (2). pp. 385-397. ISSN 0737-4038

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Abstract

Responsible for the majority of bacterial gastroenteritis in the developed world, Campylobacter jejuni is a pervasive pathogen of humans and animals, but its evolution is obscure. In this paper, we exploit contemporary genetic diversity and empirical evidence to piece together the evolutionary history of C. jejuni and quantify its evolutionary potential. Our combined population genetics-phylogenetics approach reveals a surprising picture. Campylobacter jejuni is a rapidly evolving species, subject to intense purifying selection that purges 60% of novel variation, but possessing a massive evolutionary potential. The low mutation rate is offset by a large effective population size so that a mutation at any site can occur somewhere in the population within the space of a week. Recombination has a fundamental role, generating diversity at twice the rate of de novo mutation, and facilitating gene flow between C. jejuni and its sister species Campylobacter coli. We attempt to calibrate the rate of molecular evolution in C. jejuni based solely on within-species variation. The rates we obtain are up to 1,000 times faster than conventional estimates, placing the C. jejuni-C. coli split at the time of the Neolithic revolution. We weigh the plausibility of such recent bacterial evolution against alternative explanations and discuss the evidence required to settle the issue.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Molecular Biology and Evolution
Additional Information:
© 2008 The Authors This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/uk/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1300/1312
Subjects:
ID Code:
61393
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
03 Jan 2013 14:20
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
29 Sep 2020 01:29