Diversification of colonization factors in a multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli lineage evolving under negative frequency-dependent selection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Teemu Kallonen
  • Christopher Connor
  • Khalil Abudahab
  • David M Aanensen
  • Carolyne Horner
  • Sharon J Peacock
  • Julian Parkhill
  • Nicholas J Croucher
  • Jukka Corander

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Oslo
  • Wellcome Sanger Institute
  • British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Helsinki


Escherichia coli is a major cause of bloodstream and urinary tract infections globally. The wide dissemination of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) poses a rapidly increasing public health burden due to narrowed treatment options and increased risk of failure to clear an infection. Here, we present a detailed population genomic analysis of the ExPEC ST131 clone, in which we seek explanations for its success as an emerging pathogenic strain beyond the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. We show evidence for evolution toward separate ecological niches for the main clades of ST131 and differential evolution of anaerobic metabolism, key colonization, and virulence factors. We further demonstrate that negative frequency-dependent selection acting across accessory loci is a major mechanism that has shaped the population evolution of this pathogen


Original languageEnglish
Article number e00644-19
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2019


  • AMR, Escherichia coli, Evolutionary genomics, Negative frequencydependent selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Sustainable Development Goals