• 1 Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK
  • 2 Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge CB10 1SA, UK
  • 3 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Helsinki 00100, Finland
  • 4 Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, Genome-Scale Biology Research Program, University of Helsinki 00100, Finland
  • 5 Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, CB3 0ES, UK
  • 6 Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, Florida 32611, USA
  • 7 Department of Clinical Sciences, Institute of Tropical Medicine, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
  • 8 Department of Infection and Epidemiology, Enteric bacteria pathogen Unit, Institut Pasteur, 75015 Paris, France
  • 9 Department of Microbiology, Collection of Institut Pasteur, Institut Pasteur, 75015 Paris, France
  • 10 Global and Tropical Health Division, Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University and Royal Darwin Hospital, Darwin, Northern Territory 0811 Australia
  • 11 Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, 10400 Bangkok, Thailand
  • 12 Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit, Microbiology Laboratory, Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Lao PDR
  • 13 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, SW7 2AZ, UK
  • 14 Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, Northern Arizona University, Arizona 86011-4073, USA
  • 15 Centre for Tropical Medicine &Global Health, University of Oxford, OX3 7FZ, UK
Nat Microbiol, 2017 Jan 23;2:16263.
PMID: 28112723 DOI: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.263


The environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei causes an estimated 165,000 cases of human melioidosis per year worldwide and is also classified as a biothreat agent. We used whole genome sequences of 469 B. pseudomallei isolates from 30 countries collected over 79 years to explore its geographic transmission. Our data point to Australia as an early reservoir, with transmission to Southeast Asia followed by onward transmission to South Asia and East Asia. Repeated reintroductions were observed within the Malay Peninsula and between countries bordered by the Mekong River. Our data support an African origin of the Central and South American isolates with introduction of B. pseudomallei into the Americas between 1650 and 1850, providing a temporal link with the slave trade. We also identified geographically distinct genes/variants in Australasian or Southeast Asian isolates alone, with virulence-associated genes being among those over-represented. This provides a potential explanation for clinical manifestations of melioidosis that are geographically restricted.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.