Genomic analysis of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium from wild passerines in England and Wales

Alison E. Mather, Becki Lawson, Elizabeth Depinna, Paul Wigley, Julian Parkhill, Nicholas R. Thomson, Andrew J. Page, Mark A. Holmes, Gavin K. Paterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Passerine salmonellosis is a well-recognized disease of birds in the order Passeriformes, which includes common songbirds such as finches and sparrows, caused by infection with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Previous research has suggested that some subtypes of S. Typhimurium-definitive phage types (DTs) 40, 56 variant, and 160-are host adapted to passerines and that these birds may represent a reservoir of infection for humans and other animals. Here, we have used the whole-genome sequences of 11 isolates from British passerines, five isolates of similar DTs from humans and a domestic cat, and previously published S. Typhimurium genomes that include similar DTs from other hosts to investigate the phylogenetic relatedness of passerine salmonellae to other S. Typhimurium isolates and investigate possible genetic features of the distinct disease pathogenesis of S. Typhimurium in passerines. Our results demonstrate that the 11 passerine isolates and 13 other isolates, including those from nonpasserine hosts, were genetically closely related, with a median pairwise single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) difference of 130 SNPs. These 24 isolates did not carry antimicrobial resistance genetic determinants or the S. Typhimurium virulence plasmid. Although our study does not provide evidence of Salmonella transmission from passerines to other hosts, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that wild birds represent a potential reservoir of these Salmonella subtypes, and thus, sensible personal hygiene precautions should be taken when feeding or handling garden birds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6728-6735
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the members of the public who reported garden bird disease incidents and submitted dead birds for postmortem examination. The pathological investigations were conducted at the Institute of Zoology as part of the Garden Bird Health initiative (GBHi). The help of the core sequencing and informatics team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Shinto John (Institute of Zoology) and Shaheed Macgregor (Zoological Society of London) for conducting microbiological examinations, Andrew A. Cunningham for obtaining funding and assisting with GBHi coordination (Institute of Zoology), Martin Aslett (WTSI) for accessioning the annotated assemblies, Liljana Petrovska (Animal and Plant Health Agency) and Robert Kingsley (Institute of Food Research) for information on the context collection, and Philip Ashton (Public Health England) for assistance with PHE data and helpful comments and discussion. A.E.M. was supported by Wellcome Trust grant 098051 while at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grant BB/M014088/1 at the University of Cambridge. G.K.P. and sequencing were supported by Medical Research Council Partnership grant G1001787/1 held by M.A.H. at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge. The Garden Bird Health initiative received financial support from the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation, CJ WildBird Foods Ltd., Cranswick Pet Products, Defra (through the Animal & Plant Health Agency's Diseases of Wildlife Scheme), Birdcare Standards Association, and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. J.P., N.R.T., A.J.P., and the sequencing were also supported by the Wellcome Trust under grant 098051. This work, including the efforts of Alison E. Mather, Julian Parkhill, Nicholas R. Thomson, and Andrew J. Page, was funded by Wellcome Trust (098051). This work, including the efforts of Gavin K. Paterson, Julian Parkhill, and Mark A. Holmes, was funded by Medical Research Council (MRC) (G1001787/1). This work, including the efforts of Alison E. Mather, was funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (BB/M014088/1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Genomic analysis of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium from wild passerines in England and Wales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this