Rodent-associated Bartonella species have shown a remarkable genetic diversity and pathogenic potential. To further explore the extent of the natural intraspecific genomic variation and its potential role as an evolutionary driver, we focused on a single genetically diverse Bartonella species, Bartonella krasnovii, which circulates among gerbils and their associated fleas. Twenty genomes from 16 different B. krasnovii genotypes were fully characterized through a genome sequencing assay (using short and long read sequencing), pulse field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and PCR validation. Genomic analyses were performed in comparison to the B. krasnovii strain OE 1–1. While, single nucleotide polymorphism represented only a 0.3% of the genome variation, structural diversity was identified in these genomes, with an average of 51 ± 24 structural variation (SV) events per genome. Interestingly, a large proportion of the SVs (>40%) was associated with prophages. Further analyses revealed that most of the SVs, and prophage insertions were found at the chromosome replication termination site (ter), suggesting this site as a plastic zone of the B. krasnovii chromosome. Accordingly, six genomes were found to be unbalanced, and essential genes near the ter showed a shift between the leading and lagging strands, revealing the SV effect on these genomes. In summary, our findings demonstrate the extensive genomic diversity harbored by wild B. krasnovii strains and suggests that its diversification is initially promoted by structural changes, probably driven by phages. These events may constantly feed the system with novel genotypes that ultimately lead to inter- and intraspecies competition and adaptation.
- structural variation