Genetic profiling of Mycobacterium bovis strains from slaughtered cattle in Eritrea

Michael Ghebremariam, Tiny Hlokwe, Victor P. M. G. Rutten, Alberto Allepuze, Simeon Cadmus, Adrian Muwonge, Suelee Robbe-Austerman, Anita Michel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) is the main causative agent for bovine tuberculosis
(BTB) and can also be the cause of zoonotic tuberculosis in humans. In view of its
zoonotic nature, slaughterhouse surveillance, potentially resulting in total or partial
condemnation of the carcasses and organs, is conducted routinely. Spoligotyping,
VNTR profiling, and whole genome sequencing (WGS) of M. bovis isolated from
tissues with tuberculosis-like lesions collected from 14 cattle at Eritrea's largest
slaughterhouse in the capital Asmara, were conducted. The 14 M. bovis isolates were
classified into three different spoligotype patterns (SB0120, SB0134 and SB0948) and
six VNTR profiles. WGS results matched those of the conventional genotyping
methods and further discriminated the six VNTR profiles into 14 strains. Furthermore,
phylogenetic analysis of the M. bovis isolates suggests two independent introductions
of BTB into Eritrea possibly evolving from a common ancestral strain in Europe. This
molecular study revealed the most important strains of M. bovis in Eritrea and their
(dis)similarities with the strains generally present in East Africa and Europe, as well as
potential routes of introduction of M. bovis. Though the sample size is small, the
current study provides important information as well as platform for future in-depth
molecular studies on isolates from both the dairy and the traditional livestock sectors in
Eritrea and the region.
This study provides information on the origin of some of the M. bovis strains in Eritrea,its genetic diversity, evolution and patterns of spread between dairy herds. Such
information is essential in the development and implementation of future BTB control
strategy for Eritrea.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0006406
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2018


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