Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Temporal dynamics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis genotypes in New South Wales, Australia

Ulziijargal Gurjav12, Peter Jelfs23, Nadine McCallum123, Ben J Marais1 and Vitali Sintchenko123*

Author Affiliations

1 Sydney Medical School and the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

2 NSW Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory, Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Laboratory Services, Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research – Pathology West, Sydney, Australia

3 Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology – Public Health, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:455  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-455

Published: 23 August 2014



Molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, its transmission dynamics and population structure have become important determinants of targeted tuberculosis control programs. Here we describe recent changes in the distribution of M. tuberculosis genotypes in New South Wales (NSW), Australia and compared strain types with drug resistance, site of disease and demographic data.


We evaluated all culture-confirmed newly identified tuberculosis cases in NSW, Australia, from 2010-2012. M. tuberculosis population structure and clustering rates were assessed using 24-loci Mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit (MIRU) analysis and compared to MIRU data from 2006-2008.


Of 1177 tuberculosis cases, 1128 (95.8%) were successfully typed. Beijing and East African Indian (EAI) lineage strains were most common (27.6% and 28.5%, respectively) with EAI strains increasing in relative abundance from 11.8% in 2006-2008 to 28.5% in 2010-2012. Few cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis were identified (18; 1.7%). Compared to 12-loci, 24-loci MIRU provided improved cluster resolution with 695 (61.6%) and 227 (20.1%) clustered cases identified, respectively. Detailed analysis of the largest cluster identified (an 11 member Beijing cluster) revealed wide geographic diversity in the absence of documented social contact.


EAI strains of M. tuberculosis recently overtook Beijing family as a prevalent cause of tuberculosis in NSW, Australia. This lineage appeared to be less commonly related to multi-drug resistant tuberculosis as compared to Beijing strain lineage. The resolution provided by 24-loci MIRU typing was insufficient for reliable assessment of transmissions, especially of Beijing family strains.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Population structure; Molecular epidemiology; Cluster analysis