Comparative genomics of 274 Vibrio cholerae genomes reveals mobile functions structuring three niche dimensions

Bas E. Dutilh, Cristiane C. Thompson, Ana C.P. Vicente, Michel A. Marin, Clarence Lee, Genivaldo G.Z. Silva, Robert Schmieder, Bruno G.N. Andrade, Luciane Chimetto, Daniel Cuevas, Daniel R. Garza, Iruka N. Okeke, Aaron O. Aboderin, Jessica Spangler, Tristen Ross, Elizabeth A. Dinsdale, Fabiano L. Thompson, Timothy T. Harkins, Robert A. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Vibrio cholerae is a globally dispersed pathogen that has evolved with humans for centuries, but also includes non-pathogenic environmental strains. Here, we identify the genomic variability underlying this remarkable persistence across the three major niche dimensions space, time, and habitat.Results: Taking an innovative approach of genome-wide association applicable to microbial genomes (GWAS-M), we classify 274 complete V. cholerae genomes by niche, including 39 newly sequenced for this study with the Ion Torrent DNA-sequencing platform. Niche metadata were collected for each strain and analyzed together with comprehensive annotations of genetic and genomic attributes, including point mutations (single-nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs), protein families, functions and prophages.Conclusions: Our analysis revealed that genomic variations, in particular mobile functions including phages, prophages, transposable elements, and plasmids underlie the metadata structuring in each of the three niche dimensions. This underscores the role of phages and mobile elements as the most rapidly evolving elements in bacterial genomes, creating local endemicity (space), leading to temporal divergence (time), and allowing the invasion of new habitats. Together, we take a data-driven approach for comparative functional genomics that exploits high-volume genome sequencing and annotation, in conjunction with novel statistical and machine learning analyses to identify connections between genotype and phenotype on a genome-wide scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number654
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article,unless otherwise stated


  • Functional genomics
  • Genome evolution
  • Genotype-phenotype association
  • Mobile elements
  • Niche adaptation
  • Phages
  • Random forest
  • Vibrio


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