Combined MLST and AFLP typing of Bartonella henselae isolated from cats reveals new sequence types and suggests clonal evolution

A. Mietze, D. Morick, H. Köhler, S. Harrus, C. Dehio, I. Nolte, R. Goethe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Bartonella species are Gram-negative, fastidious bacteria. Bartonella henselae is found in cats and transmitted to humans via cat scratches or bites causing cat-scratch disease, characterized by clinical symptoms with varying severity. The prevalence of bartonellosis among humans in Germany appears to be high, and severe clinical cases have been described. However, epidemiological data of B. henselae in cats are rare. In this study we determined the detection rates of Bartonella ssp. in cats by culture and real-time PCR. Furthermore, B. henselae isolates were genetically characterized by highly discriminatory amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Bartonella spp. were isolated by culture from 11 (2.2%) of 507 blood samples. Out of 169 blood samples additionally analyzed by PCR, 28 (16.6%) were found positive for Bartonella spp., illustrating the advantage of PCR in Bartonella spp. detection. PCR-REA identified B. henselae in 27 cats and Bartonella clarridgeiae in one cat. B. henselae isolates from different geographical regions in Germany were genetically characterized by AFLP and MLST. Both methods confirmed genetic diversity of B. henselae on the strain level. MLST identified 11 new sequence types, all of them assigned to three clonal complexes as determined by eBURST. AFLP typing revealed genetic relation among the B. henselae isolates from the same geographical region. Combining AFLP typing and MLST/eBURST analyses revealed that B. henselae of the same AFLP subcluster belonged to the same clonal complex. Altogether these results indicate that B. henselae may evolve clonally.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - 24 Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge Stefanie Kunz (Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Freiburg, Germany) for providing the B. henselae isolates from Freiburg as well as Dr. Stefan Rist (Dortmund, Germany), Dr. Maren Gruetter (Hamburg-Finkenwerder, Germany) and the Tierärztliche Klinik auf Boyenstein (Beckum, Germany) for collecting cat blood samples. We thank Martin Beyerbach, IBEI (Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, Germany) for the help in the statistical analysis. This work was supported by the Niedersachsen-Israel cooperation fund ( # VWZN2176 ).


  • AFLP
  • Cat-scratch disease
  • MLST


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