Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 31368488
Genome Biol Evol 2019; 11(8):2420–2438. doi:10.1093/gbe/evz162
Direct access to free fulltext:
Tuberculosis remains one of the deadliest infectious diseases of humanity. To better understand the evolutionary history of host-adaptation of tubercle bacilli (MTB), we sought for mycobacterial species that were more closely related to MTB than the previously used comparator species Mycobacterium marinum and Mycobacterium kansasii. Our phylogenomic approach revealed some recently sequenced opportunistic mycobacterial pathogens i.e. Mycobacterium decipiens, Mycobacterium lacus, Mycobacterium riyadhense, and Mycobacterium shinjukuense – that constitute a common clade with MTB, hereafter called MTB-associated phylotype (MTBAP), from which MTB have emerged. Multivariate and clustering analyses of genomic functional content revealed that the MTBAP lineage forms a clearly distinct cluster of species that share common genomic characteristics, such as loss of core genes, shift in dN/dS ratios, and massive expansion of toxin-antitoxin systems. Consistently, analysis of predicted horizontal gene transfer regions suggests that putative functions acquired by MTBAP members were markedly associated with changes in microbial ecology, e.g. adaption to intracellular stress resistance. Our study thus considerably deepens our view on MTB evolutionary history, unveiling a decisive shift that promoted conversion to host-adaptation among ancestral founders of the MTBAP lineage long before M. tuberculosis has adapted to the human host.