Assessing the genomic diversity in Campylobacter jejuni population is critical for deducing whether genomic differences between any two isolates are sufficiently small to assume a high likelihood of epidemiological relatedness. However, the evolutionary mechanisms and ecological conditions maintaining this diversity remain obscure. A key piece towards resolving this puzzle is the accurate assessment of mutation rates and the molecular spectrum of mutational events in C. jejuni. Yet, neither long-term evolutionary studies nor studies on the evolutionary change over time in a natural population setting are currently available for this important pathogen. Moreover, recombination plays a dominant role in the evolution of this bacterial pathogen, but its dynamics remain only partly understood. By applying high throughput sequencing technology to experimentally evolved C. jejuni strains, we aim to generate an unbiased direct estimate of the spectrum and rate of spontaneous mutations accumulated in a neutral environment, and to define evolution dynamics during adaptation. In addition we are investigating chromosomal integration patterns after natural transformation by combining NGS analysis and in vitro transformation system.
DVM Mirko Rossi, docent, associate professor
MSc student Xiaochang Yang