Investigating genetic diversity of Brucella abortus and Brucella melitensis in Italy with MLVA-16

Giuliano Garofolo, Elisabetta Di Giannatale, Fabrizio De Massis, Katiuscia Zilli, Massimo Ancora, Cesare Cammà, Paolo Calistri, Jeffrey T. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


Despite the eradication of brucellosis from most of Europe, the disease remains relatively common in a variety of livestock in southern European countries. It is therefore surprising that with such high prevalence rates, there have been few genetic characterizations of brucellosis outbreaks in this region. We conducted a genetic assessment of 206 isolates of Brucella abortus and B. melitensis from Italy using Variable Number Tandem Repeats (VNTRs). We determined genetic diversity and geographic distribution of these Brucella VNTR genotypes from 160 farms in eight regions of Southern Italy in a fine-scale analysis using 16 VNTR loci in a MLVA-16 methodology. In a broad scale analysis, we then used a reduced dataset of 11 VNTR loci (MLVA-11) to compare genotypes from Italy to a global database. In the 84 isolates of B. melitensis, there were 56 genotypes using MLVA-16; 43 of these genotypes were found only once. At a broad scale, 81 of these isolates were part of an Italian sub-group within the West Mediterranean group. One of the two B. melitensis isolates from a human patient shared the same genotype as a livestock isolate, suggesting a possible epidemiological connection. In 122 B. abortus isolates, there were 34 genotypes by MLVA-16; 16 of these genotypes were found only once. At a broad scale with MLVA-11, one genotype was predominant, comprising 77.8% of the isolates and was distributed throughout Southern Italy. These data on the current lineages of Brucella present in Italy should form the basis for epidemiological studies of Brucella throughout the country, while placing these strains in a global context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013



  • Brucella abortus
  • Brucella melitensis
  • Genotyping
  • MLVA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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