Eggs and raw or undercooked egg-containing food items are frequently identified as the bacterial source during epidemiolocal investigation of Salmonella outbreaks. Multi-locus variable number of tandem repeats analysis (MLVA) is a widely used Salmonella typing method enabling the study of diversity within populations of the same serotype. In vivo passage, however, has been linked with changes in MLVA type and more broadly the Salmonella genome. We sought to investigate whether in vivo passage through layer hens had an effect on MLVA type as well as the bacterial genome and whether any mutations affected bacterial virulence. Layer hens were infected with either Salmonella Typhimurium DT9 (03-24-11-11-523) as part of a single infection or were co-infected with an equal amount of Salmonella Mbandaka. Salmonella shedding in both single and co-infected birds was variable over the course of the 16-week experiment. Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Mbandaka were identified in feces of co-infected birds. Salmonella colonies isolated from fecal samples were subtyped using MLVA. A single change in SSTR-6 was observed in Salmonella Typhimurium strains isolated from co-infected birds. Isolates of Salmonella Typhimurium of both the parent (03-24-11-11-523) and modified (03-24-12-11-523) MLVA type were sequenced and compared with the genome of the parent strain. Sequence analysis revealed that in vivo passaging resulted in minor mutation events. Passaged isolates exhibited significantly higher invasiveness in cultured human intestinal epithelial cells than the parent strain. The microevolution observed in this study suggests that changes in MLVA may arise more commonly and may have clinical significance.
Vet Res (Veterinary research)
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