Whole genome-based phylogeny of reptile-associated Helicobacter indicates independent niche adaptation followed by diversification in a poikilothermic host

Maarten J. Gilbert*, Birgitta Duim, Arjen J. Timmerman, Aldert L. Zomer, Jaap A. Wagenaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Reptiles have been shown to host a significant Helicobacter diversity. In order to survive, reptile-associated Helicobacter lineages need to be adapted to the thermally dynamic environment encountered in a poikilothermic host. The whole genomes of reptile-associated Helicobacter lineages can provide insights in Helicobacter host adaptation and coevolution. These aspects were explored by comparing the genomes of reptile-, bird-, and mammal-associated Helicobacter lineages. Based on average nucleotide identity, all reptile-associated Helicobacter lineages in this study could be considered distinct species. A whole genome-based phylogeny showed two distinct clades, one associated with chelonians and one associated with lizards. The phylogeny indicates initial adaptation to an anatomical niche, which is followed by an ancient host jump and subsequent diversification. Furthermore, the ability to grow at low temperatures, which might reflect thermal adaptation to a reptilian host, originated at least twice in Helicobacter evolution. A putative tricarballylate catabolism locus was specifically present in Campylobacter and Helicobacter isolates from reptiles. The phylogeny of reptile-associated Helicobacter parallels host association, indicating a high level of host specificity. The high diversity and deep branching within these clades supports long-term coevolution with, and extensive radiation within the respective reptilian host type.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8387
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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