Genetic diversity of mastitis-associated Klebsiella pneumoniae in dairy cows

Paulin-Curlee GG, Singer RS, Sreevatsan S, Isaacson R, Reneau J, Foster D, Bey R
Journal of Dairy Science 90:3681-3689

The objectives of this study were to determine the level of genetic diversity of Klebsiella pneumoniae isolated from clinical mastitis cases and to define genotypes most commonly associated with the disease. Individual quarter milk samples were collected from a single privately owned dairy herd over a 2-yr period and submitted to the Laboratory for Udder Health, Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Minnesota, for bacteriological culture. Eighty-four K. pneumoniae isolates were obtained and fingerprinted by repetitive DNA sequence PCR, 43 by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and 29 by multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Significant genetic diversity was observed among the isolates regardless of the fingerprinting method used. Simpson’s diversity index was 93.5, 96.1, and 97.0% when analyzed by repetitive DNA sequence PCR (n = 84), pulse field gel electrophoresis (n = 43), and MLST (n = 29), respectively. In some cases more than 1 genotype was obtained from a single milk sample originating from an individual quarter. The majority of infections were observed during the winter and accounted for 69.0% of K. pneumoniae mastitis cases. There was a negative correlation between a matrix of fingerprints similarity and a matrix of temporal distances. The MLST results revealed 5 new and novel allelic types, which have not been previously reported in the MLST database. Three isolates shared MLST types with human clinical isolates, raising the possibility that some K. pneumoniae isolates, of bovine origin, may be capable of causing disease in humans. There were 21 genotypes present within the herd, and there was no evidence for nonrandom distribution of genotypes uniquely associated with mastitis. We have shown, using 3 distinct genotyping methods, that K. pneumoniae isolated from clinical mastitis within a single dairy herd is caused by a genetically diverse population and that multiple genotypes can be isolated from a mastitic quarter. The data suggest that mastitis can be caused by a variety of K. pneumoniae genotypes. Diverse genotypes may have different levels of invasiveness and virulence and may originate from various sources within the dairy.