Comparative genomics of <i>Campylobacter concisus</i>: Analysis of clinical strains reveals genome diversity and pathogenic potential

<p>In recent years, an increasing number of <i>Campylobacter</i> species have been associated with human gastrointestinal (GI) diseases including gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal cancer. <i>Campylobacter concisus</i>, an oral commensal historically linked to gingivitis and periodontitis, has been increasingly detected in the lower GI tract. In the present study, we generated robust genome sequence data from <i>C. concisus</i> strains and undertook a comprehensive pangenome assessment to identify <i>C. concisus</i> virulence properties and to explain potential adaptations acquired while residing in specific ecological niche(s) of the GI tract. Genomes of 53 new <i>C. concisus</i> strains were sequenced, assembled, and annotated including 36 strains from gastroenteritis patients, 13 strains from Crohn’s disease patients and four strains from colitis patients (three collagenous colitis and one lymphocytic colitis). When compared with previous published sequences, strains clustered into two main groups/genomospecies (GS) with phylogenetic clustering explained neither by disease phenotype nor sample location. Paired oral/faecal isolates, from the same patient, indicated that there are few genetic differences between oral and gut isolates which suggests that gut isolates most likely reflect oral strain relocation. Type IV and VI secretion systems genes, genes known to be important for pathogenicity in the <i>Campylobacter</i> genus, were present in the genomes assemblies, with 82% containing Type VI secretion system genes. Our findings indicate that <i>C. concisus</i> strains are genetically diverse, and the variability in bacterial secretion system content may play an important role in their virulence potential.</p>