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Multi-locus sequence typing and plasmid profile characterization of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli associated with increased mortality in free-range layer flocks

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Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli strains originating from 10 free-range layer flocks were characterized by multi-locus sequence typing and plasmid profile analysis to investigate their phylogenetic relationship and diversity, respectively. In addition to colibacillosis, all flocks tested positive for antibodies against avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) during production, and six of the flocks were concurrently affected by histomonosis. Accumulated average mortality for flocks concurrently affected by colibacillosis and histomonosis made up 17.4%, while the average mortality for E. coli-infected flocks was 16.5%. A total of eight different sequence types (STs) and 47 different plasmid profiles were demonstrated among the E. coli isolates. Within each flock between one and four different STs and between three and 13 different plasmid profiles were demonstrated. A statistical significant difference in STs and plasmid profile diversity of the population of E. coli was not demonstrated between flocks affected by histomonosis compared with histomonosis-free flocks. Only minor clonal diversity was demonstrated for each flock, and in all but one flock colibacillosis started before antibodies against aMPV were detected. All isolates, except two, carried plasmids greater than 100 kb, but only a single plasmid replicon type, IncFIB, was demonstrated, suggesting plasmids representing this type might represent a common pathogenicity factor for the different STs of E. coli. Within each flock a clonal tendency was observed, indicating that only certain clones of E. coli possess a significant pathogenic potential. These clones act as primary rather than secondary pathogens, resulting in colibacillosis without predisposing factors, including histomonosis and aMPV.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Life Science, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology,University of Copenhagen, Stigbøjlen 41870Frederiksberg C, Denmark 2: Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Mørkhøj Bygade 192860Søborg, Denmark 3: DHI, Agern Allé 52970Hørsholm, Denmark

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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