Whole genome sequencing of a feline strain of Tritrichomonas foetus reveals massive genetic differences to bovine and porcine isolates

Dąbrowska, Joanna; Keller, Irene; Karamon, Jacek; Kochanowski, Maciej; Gottstein, Bruno; Cencek, Tomasz; Frey, Caroline F.; Müller, Norbert (2020). Whole genome sequencing of a feline strain of Tritrichomonas foetus reveals massive genetic differences to bovine and porcine isolates. International journal for parasitology, 50(3), pp. 227-233. Elsevier 10.1016/j.ijpara.2019.12.007

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Tritrichomonas foetus is a protozoan parasite that colonizes the reproductive tract of cattle as well as the gastrointestinal tract of cats. Bovine tritrichomonosis is a sexually transmitted disease whereas feline tritrichomonosis is thought to be transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Furthermore, T. foetus is known as an essentially apathogenic commensal located in the nasal cavity of pigs. Transmission of T. foetus between the different hosts has to be considered a realistic scenario that may have important implications for the epidemiology of infections and disease. In our study, we generated whole genome sequencing (WGS) data from bovine, feline and porcine T. foetus strains to investigate the genetic (dis)similarities among these diverse strains. As a reference, we used a previously released draft assembly from a bovine T. foetus strain K isolated from an infected bull in Brazil. In particular, we identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and the insertion-deletion (indel) variations within the genomes of the different strains. Interestingly, only a low degree of polymorphism (68 SNPs and indels) was found between the bovine and the porcine strains in terms of variants with a predicted impact of moderate or high and where one species is homozygous for one allele and the other homozygous for the other allele. Conversely, however, a 964 times higher number of such differences was detected by comparing the feline with either the bovine (65,569) or the porcine (65,615) strain. These data clearly indicated a close phylogenetic relationship between bovine and porcine T. foetus but a remarkable genetic distinctness of these two strains from the feline strain. The latter observation was confirmed by PCR-based sequencing of 20 in silico-selected indel markers and five in silico-selected SNP markers that uniformly demonstrated a relatively distant phylogenetic relationship of three independent feline T. foetus isolates in comparison to the bovine and porcine strains investigated. In summary, our comparative genome sequencing approach provided further insights into the genetic diversity of T. foetus in relation to the different host origins of the parasite. Furthermore, our study identified a large number of SNP- and indel-containing sequences that may be useful molecular markers for future epidemiological studies aimed at the elucidation of the transmission patterns of T. foetus within different host species.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Parasitology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Keller, Irene (B), Gottstein, Bruno, Frey Marreros Canales, Caroline Franziska, Müller, Norbert


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture
500 Science
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)








Norbert Müller

Date Deposited:

31 Mar 2020 15:39

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:37

Publisher DOI:


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