Genomic analysis of the multi-host pathogen Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae reveals extensive recombination as well as the existence of three generalist clades with wide geographic distribution
A collection of swine, fish, and cetacean Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae strains representing 16 serotypes was analyzed for possession of the three currently recognized surface protective antigen (spa)-types: spaA, spaB, and spaC. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays and Western blotting with a SpaA-specific monoclonal antibody demonstrated that spa-type is not confined to specific serotype groups. In particular, the spa-type of strains of aquatic origin was more variable than those of terrestrial origin, and possessed the distinct ability to express more than one spa. In a cross-protection study, mice immunized with an E. rhusiopathiae serotype 2 SpaA-type strain and challenged with various E. rhusiopathiae isolates were completely protected against strains exhibiting a single homologous spa, but variably protected against strains possessing a heterologous spa or those harboring more than one spa-type.