Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis and a potential bioterrorism agent. In the development of medical countermeasures against B. pseudomallei infection, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) animal Rule recommends using well-characterized strains in animal challenge studies. In this study, whole genome sequence data were generated for 6 B. pseudomallei isolates previously identified as candidates for animal challenge studies; an additional 5 isolates were sequenced that were associated with human inhalational melioidosis. A core genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) phylogeny inferred from a concatenated SNP alignment from the 11 isolates sequenced in this study and a diverse global collection of isolates demonstrated the diversity of the proposed Animal Rule isolates. To understand the genomic composition of each isolate, a large-scale blast score ratio (LS-BSR) analysis was performed on the entire pan-genome; this demonstrated the variable composition of genes across the panel and also helped to identify genes unique to individual isolates. In addition, a set of ~550 genes associated with pathogenesis in B. pseudomallei were screened against the 11 sequenced genomes with LSBSR. Differential gene distribution for 54 virulence-associated genes was observed between genomes and three of these genes were correlated with differential virulence observed in animal challenge studies using BALB/c mice. Differentially conserved genes and SNPs associated with disease severity were identified and could be the basis for future studies investigating the pathogenesis of B. pseudomallei. Overall, the genetic characterization of the 11 proposed Animal Rule isolates provides context for future studies involving B. pseudomallei pathogenesis, differential virulence, and efficacy to therapeutics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas