Population Genomics of Legionella longbeachae and Hidden Complexities of Infection Source Attribution

Bacigalupe, R., Lindsay, D., Edwards, G. & Fitzgerald, J. R.
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Journal publication date: 

Legionella longbeachae is the primary cause of legionellosis in Australasia and Southeast Asia and an emerging pathogen in Europe and the United States; however, our understanding of the population diversity of L. longbeachae from patient and environmental sources is limited. We analyzed the genomes of 64 L. longbeachae isolates, of which 29 were from a cluster of legionellosis cases linked to commercial growing media in Scotland in 2013 and 35 were non-outbreak-associated isolates from Scotland and other countries. We identified extensive genetic diversity across the L. longbeachae species, associated with intraspecies and interspecies gene flow, and a wide geographic distribution of closely related genotypes. Of note, we observed a highly diverse pool of L. longbeachae genotypes within compost samples that precluded the genetic establishment of an infection source. These data represent a view of the genomic diversity of L. longbeachae that will inform strategies for investigating future outbreaks.