Genetic Diversity of PCR-Positive, Culture-Negative and Culture-Positive Mycobacterium ulcerans Isolated from Buruli Ulcer Patients in Ghana

Culture of Mycobacterium ulcerans from Buruli ulcer patients has very low sensitivity. Thus confirmation of M. ulcerans infection is primarily based on PCR directed against IS2404. In this study we compare the genotypes obtained by variable number of tandem repeat analysis of DNA from IS2404-PCR positive cultures with that obtained from IS2404 positive, culture-negative tissue. A significantly greater genetic heterogeneity was found among culture-negative samples compared with that found in cultured strains but a single genotype is over-represented in both sample sets. This study provides evidence that both the focal location of bacteria in a lesion as well as differences in the ability to culture a particular genotype may underlie the low sensitivity of culture. Though preliminary, data from this work also suggests that mycobacteria previously associated with fish disease (M. pseudoshottsii) may be pathogenic for humans.
An article published by PLOS ONE and available at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088007
PLoS ONE 9(2): e88007. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088007