Original Research

Genetic characterisation of virulence genes associated with adherence, invasion and cytotoxicity in Campylobacter spp. isolated from commercial chickens and human clinical cases

Samantha Reddy, Oliver T. Zishiri
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 85, No 1 | a1507 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v85i1.1507 | © 2018 Samantha Reddy, Oliver T. Zishiri | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 10 July 2017 | Published: 15 February 2018

About the author(s)

Samantha Reddy, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Oliver T. Zishiri, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Virulence-associated genes have been recognised and detected in Campylobacter species. The majority of them have been proven to be associated with pathogenicity. This study aimed to detect the presence of virulence genes associated with pathogenicity and responsible for invasion, expression of adherence, colonisation and production of the cytolethal distending toxin (cdt) in Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli. Commercial chicken faecal samples were randomly sampled from chicken farms within the Durban metropolitan area in South Africa. Furthermore, human clinical Campylobacter spp. isolates were randomly sampled from a private pathology laboratory in South Africa. Out of a total of 100 chicken faecal samples, 78% (n = 78) were positive for Campylobacter growth on modified charcoal cefoperazone deoxycholate and from the random laboratory collection of 100 human clinical isolates, 83% (n = 83) demonstrated positive Campylobacter spp. growth following culturing methods. These samples were screened for the presence of the following virulence genes: cadF, hipO, asp, ciaB, dnaJ, pldA, cdtA, cdtB and cdtC. As expected, the cadF gene was present in 100% of poultry (n = 78) and human clinical isolates (n = 83). Campylobacter jejuni was the main species detected in both poultry and human clinical isolates, whilst C. coli were detected at a significantly lower percentage (p < 0.05). Eight per cent of the C. jejuni from human clinical isolates had all virulence genes that were investigated. Only one C. coli isolate demonstrated the presence of all the virulence genes investigated; however, the pldA virulence gene was detected in 100% of the C. coli isolates in poultry and a high percentage (71%) in human clinical C. coli isolates as well. The detection of cdt genes was found at higher frequency in poultry than human clinical isolates. The high prevalence rates of virulence genes detected in poultry and human clinical isolates demonstrate their significance in the pathogenicity of Campylobacter species.


Adherence; expression; gastroenteritis; invasion; pathogenicity; toxin


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