BACKGROUND: The zoonotic bacterium Campylobacter jejuni has a broad host range but is especially associated with birds, both domestic and wild. Earlier studies have indicated thrushes of the genus Turdus in Europe to be frequently colonized with C. jejuni, and predominately with host-associated specific genotypes. The European Blackbird Turdus merula has a large distribution in Europe, including some oceanic islands, and was also introduced to Australia by European immigrants in the 1850s.
METHODS: The host specificity and temporal stability of European Blackbird C. jejuni was investigated with multilocus sequence typing in a set of isolates collected from Sweden, Australia, and The Azores.
RESULTS: Remarkably, we found that the Swedish, Australian, and Azorean isolates were genetically highly similar, despite extensive spatial and temporal isolation. This indicates adaptation, exquisite specificity, and stability in time for European Blackbirds, which is in sharp contrast with the high levels of recombination and mutation found in poultry-related C. jejuni genotypes.
CONCLUSION: The maintenance of host-specific signals in spatially and temporally separated C. jejuni populations suggests the existence of strong purifying selection for this bacterium in European Blackbirds.
2015. Vol. 5