Multispacer typing to study the genotypic distribution of Bartonella henselae populations

Wenjun Li, Bruno B Chomel, Soichi Maruyama, Lynn Guptil, Anna Sander, Didier Raoult, Pierre Edouard Fournier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Bartonella henselae, a worldwide fastidious bacterium, has a feline reservoir and is pathogenic for humans. However, the relationship between human and cat isolates of B. henselae, as well as its population dynamics and geographic heterogeneity, is not fully understood, in part because of the absence of appropriate typing methods. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST), the most discriminatory genotyping method for B. henselae, identified seven genotypes and suggested that human isolates arose from a limited number of cat isolates. Herein, we estimated the discriminatory power of multispacer typing (MST) by studying 126 B. henselae cat isolates from various areas of Europe, Asia, and the United States. We identified the nine most variable intergenic spacers conserved by both B. henselae and Bartonella quintana genomes. By comparing the sequences obtained from these nine spacers for each studied isolate, we identified 39 MST genotypes. The distribution of isolates into MST genotypes matched their phylogenetic organization into four clusters. MST showed that European and Asian isolates were different, in contrast with American isolates, but failed to identify pandemic strains. Our study demonstrated that MST is a powerful method for genotyping B. henselae at the strain level and may serve in studying the population dynamics of this bacterium and understanding the relationships between cat and human isolates. Finally, we provide a free-access MST-Rick online software program ( MST_BHenselae/mst) that investigators may use to compare their own MST sequences to our database.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2499-2506
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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