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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

SOLiD sequencing of four Vibrio vulnificus genomes enables comparative genomic analysis and identification of candidate clade-specific virulence genes

Paul A Gulig1*, Valérie de Crécy-Lagard2, Anita C Wright3, Brandon Walts1, Marina Telonis-Scott14 and Lauren M McIntyre1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

2 Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

3 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

4 Department of Genetics, University of Melbourne, 3010 Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:512  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-512

Published: 24 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Vibrio vulnificus is the leading cause of reported death from consumption of seafood in the United States. Despite several decades of research on molecular pathogenesis, much remains to be learned about the mechanisms of virulence of this opportunistic bacterial pathogen. The two complete and annotated genomic DNA sequences of V. vulnificus belong to strains of clade 2, which is the predominant clade among clinical strains. Clade 2 strains generally possess higher virulence potential in animal models of disease compared with clade 1, which predominates among environmental strains. SOLiD sequencing of four V. vulnificus strains representing different clades (1 and 2) and biotypes (1 and 2) was used for comparative genomic analysis.

Results

Greater than 4,100,000 bases were sequenced of each strain, yielding approximately 100-fold coverage for each of the four genomes. Although the read lengths of SOLiD genomic sequencing were only 35 nt, we were able to make significant conclusions about the unique and shared sequences among the genomes, including identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms. Comparative analysis of the newly sequenced genomes to the existing reference genomes enabled the identification of 3,459 core V. vulnificus genes shared among all six strains and 80 clade 2-specific genes. We identified 523,161 SNPs among the six genomes.

Conclusions

We were able to glean much information about the genomic content of each strain using next generation sequencing. Flp pili, GGDEF proteins, and genomic island XII were identified as possible virulence factors because of their presence in virulent sequenced strains. Genomic comparisons also point toward the involvement of sialic acid catabolism in pathogenesis.