The characteristics that allow one Campylobacter jejuni genotype to succeed over another under the influence of bacteriophage predation have been examined in experimental broiler chickens following the observation that this succession appeared to occur in naturally colonized broiler chicken flocks. Examination of three C. jejuni strains from a single flock indicated that horizontal transfer of at least 112 kb of genomic DNA from strain F2C10 (bacteriophage sensitive) to strain F2E1 (bacteriophage insensitive) had created strain F2E3. Transfer of this DNA was associated with acquisition of sensitivity to 6 of 25 lytic bacteriophage isolated from the same flock. All strains tested were capable of colonizing broiler chickens but cocolonization revealed that the bacteriophage sensitive strains F2E3 and F2C10 had a competitive advantage over the bacteriophage insensitive strain F2E1. With the addition of lytic bacteriophage the situation was completely reversed, with F2E1 dominating. The inability to replicate bacteriophage is associated with a significant fitness cost that renders the insensitive strain competitive only in the presence of bacteriophage. We demonstrate that interstrain recombination in vivo can generate genome diversity in C. jejuni and that bacteriophage predation is a strong selective pressure that influences the relative success of emergent strains in broiler chickens.
- Campylobacter jejuni/classification
- Carrier State
- Food Microbiology
- Gastrointestinal Tract/microbiology
- Gene Transfer, Horizontal/genetics
- Genetic Variation