, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 22-27
Date: 04 Sep 2012

Campylobacter spp. Recovered from the Upper Oconee River Watershed, Georgia in a 4-Year Study

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Waterways should be considered in the migration routes of Campylobacter, and the genus has been isolated from several water sources. Inferences on migration routes can be made from tracking genetic types in populations found in specific habitats and testing how they are linked to other types. Water samples were taken over a 4-year period from waterways in the Upper Oconee River Watershed, Georgia, to recover isolates of thermophilic Campylobacter. The isolates were typed by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and analyzed to determine the overall diversity of Campylobacter in that environment. Forty-seven independent isolates were recovered from 560 samples (8.4 %). Two (~4 %) isolates were Campylobacter coli, three (~6 %) isolates were putatively identified as Campylobacter lari, and the remaining 42 (~90 %) were Campylobacter jejuni. The C. jejuni and C. coli isolates were typed by the Oxford MLST scheme. Thirty sequence types (STs) were identified including 13 STs that were not found before in the MLST database, including 24 novel alleles. Of the 17 previously described STs, 10 have been isolated from humans, 6 from environmental water, and 6 from wild birds (five types from multiple sources). Seven sites had multiple positive samples, and on two occasions, the same ST was isolated at the same site. The most common type was STST61 with four isolates, and the most common clonal complex was CC179 with nine isolates. CC179 has been commonly associated with environmental water. Although some Campylobacter STs that were found in the Oconee River engage in widespread migration, most are tightly associated with or unique to environmental water sources.