Journal article

Multiple Introductions and Recent Spread of the Emerging Human Pathogen Mycobacterium ulcerans across Africa

Koen Vandelannoote, Conor J Meehan, Miriam Eddyani, Dissou Affolabi, Delphin Mavinga Phanzu, Sara Eyangoh, Kurt Jordaens, Francoise Portaels, Kirstie Mangas, Torsten Seemann, Laurent Marsollier, Estelle Marion, Annick Chauty, Jordi Landier, Arnaud Fontanet, Herwig Leirs, Timothy P Stinear, Bouke C de Jong



Buruli ulcer (BU) is an insidious neglected tropical disease. Cases are reported around the world but the rural regions of West and Central Africa are most affected. How BU is transmitted and spreads has remained a mystery, even though the causative agent, Mycobacterium ulcerans, has been known for more than 70 years. Here, using the tools of population genomics, we reconstruct the evolutionary history of M. ulcerans by comparing 165 isolates spanning 48 years and representing 11 endemic countries across Africa. The genetic diversity of African M. ulcerans was found to be restricted due to the bacterium's slow substitution rate coupled with its relatively recent origin. We identified two spe..

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Awarded by European Research Council-INTERRUPTB starting grant

Awarded by National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia

Awarded by Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (Belgium) (FWO grant)

Funding Acknowledgements

K.V. was supported by a PhD-grant of the Flemish Interuniversity Council-University Development Cooperation (Belgium). B.d.J. and C.M. were supported by the European Research Council-INTERRUPTB starting grant (no. 311725). T.P.S. was supported by a fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (1105525).Funding for this work was provided by the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation of the Flemish Government, the Stop Buruli Consortium supported by the UBS Optimus Foundation, and the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (Belgium) (FWO grant no. G.0321.07N). The computational resources used in this work were provided by the HPC core facility CalcUA and VSC (Flemish Supercomputer Center), funded by the University of Antwerp, the Hercules Foundation and the Flemish Government-department EWI. Aspects of the research in Cameroon and Benin were funded by the Raoul Follereau Fondation France. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.