Transmission of Klebsiella strains and plasmids within and between grey‐headed flying fox colonies

Ben Vezina*, Louise M. Judd, Fiona K. McDougall, Wayne S. J. Boardman, Michelle L. Power, Jane Hawkey, Sylvain Brisse, Jonathan M. Monk, Kathryn E. Holt, Kelly L. Wyres

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    28 Downloads (Pure)


    The grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) is an endemic Australian fruit bat, known to carry zoonotic pathogens. We recently showed they harbour bacterial pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae and closely related species in the K. pneumoniae species complex (KpSC); however, the dynamics of KpSC transmission and gene flow within flying fox colonies are poorly understood. High-resolution genome comparisons of 39 KpSC isolates from grey-headed flying foxes identified five putative strain transmission clusters (four intra- and one inter-colony). The instance of inter-colony strain transmission of K. africana was found between two flying fox populations within flying distance, indicating either direct or indirect transmission through a common food/water source. All 11 plasmids identified within the KpSC isolates showed 73% coverage (mean) and ≥95% identity to human-associated KpSC plasmids, indicating gene flow between human clinical and grey-headed flying fox isolates. Along with strain transmission, inter-species horizontal plasmid transmission between K. pneumoniae and Klebsiella africana was also identified within a flying fox colony. Finally, genome-scale metabolic models were generated to predict and compare substrate usage to previously published KpSC models, from human and environmental sources. These models indicated no distinction on the basis of metabolic capabilities. Instead, metabolic capabilities were consistent with population structure and ST/lineage.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4425-4436
    Number of pages12
    JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
    Issue number9
    Early online date25 May 2022
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    Dive into the research topics of 'Transmission of Klebsiella strains and plasmids within and between grey‐headed flying fox colonies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this