Bottlenecks and broomsticks: The molecular evolution of Mycobacterium bovis

Noel H. Smith, Stephen V. Gordon, Ricardo de la Rua-Domenech, Richard S. Clifton-Hadley, R. Glyn Hewinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

264 Citations (SciVal)


Mycobacterium bovis is the cause of tuberculosis in cattle and is a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. In contrast to many other pathogenic bacterial species, there is little evidence for the transfer and recombination of genes between cells. The clonality of this group of organisms indicates that the population structure is dominated by reductions in diversity, caused either by population bottlenecks or selective sweeps as entire chromosomes become fixed in the population. We describe how these forces have shaped not only the phylogeny of this group but also, at a very local level, the population structure of Mycobacterium bovis in the British Isles. We also discuss the practical implications of applying this knowledge to understanding the spread of infection and the development of improved vaccines and diagnostic tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-681
Number of pages12
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2006


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