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Open Access Short Report

Anthrax phylogenetic structure in Northern Italy

Giuliano Garofolo1*, Luigina Serrecchia1, Michela Corrò2 and Antonio Fasanella1

Author Affiliations

1 Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Puglia e della Basilicata, Anthrax Reference Institute of Italy-Foggia, Italy

2 Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Padua Diagnostic Laboratory- Padova, Italy

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:273  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-273

Published: 29 July 2011



Anthrax has almost disappeared from mainland Europe, except for the Mediterranean region where cases are still reported. In Central and South Italy, anthrax is enzootic, but in the North there are currently no high risk areas, with only sporadic cases having been registered in the last few decades. Regional genetic and molecular characterizations of anthrax in these regions are still lacking. To investigate the potential molecular diversity of Bacillus anthracis in Northern Italy, canonical Single nucleotide polymorphism (canSNP) and Multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) genotyping was performed against all isolates from animal outbreaks registered in the last twenty years in the region.


Six B. anthracis strains were analyzed. The canSNP analysis indicates the presence of three sublineages/subgroups each of which belong to one of the 12 worldwide CanSNP genotypes: B.Br.CNEVA (3 isolates), A.Br.005/006 (1 isolates) and A.008/009 (2 isolate). The latter is the dominant canSNP genotype in Italy. The 15-loci MLVA analysis revealed five different genotypes among the isolates.


The major B branch and the A.Br.005/006 were recovered in the Northeast region. The genetic structure of anthrax discovered in this area differs from the rest of the country, suggesting the presence of a separate and independent B. anthracis molecular evolution niche. Although the isolates analyzed in this study are limited in quantity and representation, these results indicate that B. anthracis genetic diversity changes around the Alps.