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Spatial Variation of Yersinia pestis from Yunnan Province of China

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  • 1 State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China; Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; Yunnan Institute for Endemic Disease Control and Prevention, Dali, China

Yunnan Province of China is considered the site of origin for modern plague. We analyzed the genotypes of eight Yersinia pestis strains isolated from three counties in Yunnan Province by pulse field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). PFGE showed that strains isolated from the same site were identical regardless of hosts or year of isolation. However, Y. pestis strains isolated from geographically distinct loci were genetically divergent. Whole genome sequences of two strains from two foci in Yunnan showed that the genetic variation of Y. pestis strains was caused by genome rearrangement. We concluded that Y. pestis strains in each epidemic focus in Yunnan were a clonal population and selected by host environments. The genomic variability of the Y. pestis strains from different foci were caused by genome rearrangement, which may provide a positive selective advantage for Y. pestis to adapt to its host environments.

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