Structure and urovirulence characteristics of the fecal Escherichia coli population among healthy women

Eva Moreno, James R. Johnson, Teresa Pérez, Guillem Prats, Michael A. Kuskowski, Antonia Andreu

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67 Scopus citations


The fecal Escherichia coli population structure may influence the occurrence and etiology of extraintestinal infection, but is poorly understood. Accordingly, fecal E. coli from 39 healthy women (30 putative colonies per subject) were characterized for clonal identity, urinary tract infection-associated virulence traits, and phylogenetic background. The 120 unique E. coli clones (mean, three per sample) were distributed by phylogenetic group as follows: A (33%), D (31%), B1 (19%), and B2 (17%). However, 36% of women carried ≥1 clone from group B2, and 87% had clones from groups B2 and/or D. Of the B2 clones, 90% were from pauciclonal fecal samples (≤4 clones), compared with 47% and 52% of A and B1 clones (P = .001 and P = .007, respectively). Group B2 and D clones more often were dominant within the source sample than group A and B1 clones (60% vs. 41%: P = .05). Dominant clones exhibited higher virulence scores than non-dominant clones (mean 4.4 vs. 3.1: P = .015). In multilevel regression models, pauciclonal sample, B2, and clonal prevalence significantly predicted virulence score. In conclusion, within the intestinal E. coli population, virulence-associated traits, clonal prevalence, and low fecal clonal diversity are related. Virulence-associated traits of group B2/D E. coli may enhance fitness within the gut, thereby increasing strains' likelihood of causing extraintestinal infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-280
Number of pages7
JournalMicrobes and Infection
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spanish Network for the Research in Infectious Diseases (REIPI C03/14), Spanish Network for the Research in Infectious Diseases (REIPI RD06/0008), Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria, grant FIS01/1353 and grant FIS02/1887 (all to G.P), and the Office of Research and Development, Medical Research Service, Department of Veterans Affairs (J.R.J.).

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Escherichia coli
  • Fecal population
  • Phylogenetic group
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Virulence factors


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