Image_1_Whole Genome Sequencing for Determining the Source of Mycobacterium bovis Infections in Livestock Herds and Wildlife in New Zealand.TIF

The ability to DNA fingerprint Mycobacterium bovis isolates helped to define the role of wildlife in the persistence of bovine tuberculosis in New Zealand. DNA fingerprinting results currently help to guide wildlife control measures and also aid in tracing the source of infections that result from movement of livestock. During the last 5 years we have developed the ability to distinguish New Zealand (NZ) M. bovis isolates by comparing the sequences of whole genome sequenced (WGS) M. bovis samples. WGS provides much higher resolution than our other established typing methods and greatly improves the definition of the regional localization of NZ M. bovis types. Three outbreak investigations are described and results demonstrate how WGS analysis has led to the confirmation of epidemiological sourcing of infection, to better definition of new sources of infection by ruling out other possible sources, and has revealed probable wildlife infection in an area considered to be free of infected wildlife. The routine use of WGS analyses for sourcing new M. bovis infections will be an important component of the strategy employed to eradicate bovine TB from NZ livestock and wildlife.