Rapid typing of Coxiella burnetii

Heidie M. Hornstra, Rachael A. Priestley, Shalamar M. Georgia, Sergey Kachur, Dawn N. Birdsell, Remy Hilsabeck, Lauren T. Gates, James E. Samuel, Robert A. Heinzen, Gilbert J. Kersh, Paul Keim, Robert F. Massung, Talima Pearson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Coxiella burnetii has the potential to cause serious disease and is highly prevalent in the environment. Despite this, epidemiological data are sparse and isolate collections are typically small, rare, and difficult to share among laboratories as this pathogen is governed by select agent rules and fastidious to culture. With the advent of whole genome sequencing, some of this knowledge gap has been overcome by the development of genotyping schemes, however many of these methods are cumbersome and not readily transferable between institutions. As comparisons of the few existing collections can dramatically increase our knowledge of the evolution and phylogeography of the species, we aimed to facilitate such comparisons by extracting SNP signatures from past genotyping efforts and then incorporated these signatures into assays that quickly and easily define genotypes and phylogenetic groups. We found 91 polymorphisms (SNPs and indels) among multispacer sequence typing (MST) loci and designed 14 SNP-based assays that could be used to type samples based on previously established phylogenetic groups. These assays are rapid, inexpensive, real-time PCR assays whose results are unambiguous. Data from these assays allowed us to assign 43 previously untyped isolates to established genotypes and genomic groups. Furthermore, genotyping results based on assays from the signatures provided here are easily transferred between institutions, readily interpreted phylogenetically and simple to adapt to new genotyping technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere26201
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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