Open Access

Genome Sequence of Campylobacter jejuni strain 327, a strain isolated from a turkey slaughterhouse

  • Monica Takamiya
  • , Asli Ozen
  • , Morten Rasmussen
  • , Thomas Alter
  • , Tom Gilbert
  • , Dave W. Ussery
  • and Susanne Knøchel
Corresponding author

DOI: 10.4056/sigs.1313504

Received: 25 April 2011

Published: 29 April 2011


Campylobacter is one of the leading causes of food-borne gastroenteritis and has a high prevalence in poultry. Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni 327 is a subspecies of the genus Campylobacter of the family Campylobacteraceae in the phylum Proteobacteria. The microaerophilic, spiral shaped, catalase positive bacterium obtains energy from the metabolism of amino acids and Krebs cycle intermediates. Strain 327 was isolated from a turkey slaughter production line and is considered environmentally sensitive to food processing (cold, heat, drying) and storage conditions. The 327 whole genome shotgun sequence of 1,618,613 bp long consists of 1,740 protein-coding genes, 46 tRNA genes and 3 rRNA operons. A protein based BLAST analysis places the turkey isolate 327 close to the human clinical strain 81116 (NCTC 11828).


Campylobacter is known worldwide as a common cause of human bacterial diarrhea; however, it is commensal in the gastrointestinal tract of many domestic and wild animals, especially birds. In 2008, campylobacteriosis remained the most frequently reported zoonotic disease in humans in the European Union with 190,566 confirmed cases [1]. Broiler meat and broiler flocks throughout the production chain in many EU-Member States, along with raw milk were reported as the most important food vehicles in food-borne Campylobacter outbreaks in 2008.

Classification and features

The genus Campylobacter belongs to the Epsilonproteobacteria [2] and is classified in the family Campylobacteraceae [3, Table 1], which includes the genera Campylobacter, Arcobacter, Dehalospirillum and Sulfurospirillum. The closest genetically related genera are Helicobacter and Wolinella, which together belong to the family Helicobacteraceae [7,22]. Currently, available genomes of the genus Campylobacter comprises 29 species and 4 subspecies (see phylogenetic tree, Figure 1). The most commonly isolated pathogenic species are C. jejuni, C. coli and C. fetus. All these species have small genomes (1.6–2.0 megabases) and can establish long-term associations with their hosts, sometimes with pathogenic consequences. Figure 1 shows the phylogenetic neighborhood of C. jejuni 327 in a 16S rRNA based tree.

Table 1

Classification and general features of C. jejuni 327 according to the MIGS recommendations [4]




    Evidence code

     Domain Bacteria

    TAS [5]

     Phylum Proteobacteria

    TAS [6]

     Class Epsilonproteobacteria

    TAS [2,7,8]

    Current classification

     Order Campylobacterales

    TAS [2,7]

     Family Campylobacteraceae

    TAS [3]

     Genus Campylobacter

    TAS [3,9-15]

     Species Campylobacter jejuni

    TAS [9,10]

     Strain 327

    TAS [16]

    Gram stain


    TAS [9]

    Cell shape

     Helical or curved rods can be observed in     short or longer chains that can be V-, S-, or comma-shaped

    TAS [9]


     motile via lateral flagella

    TAS [9]



    TAS [9]

    Temperature range

     thermophilic, 37-42°C

    TAS [17]

    Optimum temperature


    TAS [17]


     sensitive to 1% NaCl

    TAS [18]


    Oxygen requirement

     microaerophilic (optimal concentrations of     O2 [5–10%] and CO2 [3–5%])

    TAS [9]

    Carbon source

     peptides and amino acids

    TAS [3]

    Energy source

     amino acids and Krebs cycle intermediates     for energy production

    TAS [3]



     Commensal organism in birds, primary     enteric pathogen in humans

    TAS [17]


    Biotic relationship

     Free living

    TAS [17]




    TAS [17]

    Biosafety level


    TAS [4,19]


     Poultry processing plant during slaughter of turkey batches     Source of sampling: after killing

    TAS [20]


    Geographic location

     Different poultry processing plants located in Germany

    TAS [20]


    Sample collection time

     Autumn 2002

    TAS [20]

Evidence codes - IDA: Inferred from Direct Assay (first time in publication); TAS: Traceable Author Statement (i.e., a direct report exists in the literature); NAS: Non-traceable Author Statement (i.e., not directly observed for the living, isolated sample, but based on a generally accepted property for the species, or anecdotal evidence). These evidence codes are from of the Gene Ontology project [21]. If the evidence code is IDA, then the property was directly observed for a live isolate by one of the authors, or an expert mentioned in the acknowledgements.

Figure 1

Phylogenetic tree based on 16S rRNA highlighting the position of C. jejuni 327 relative to the other type and non-type strains within the species Campylobacter jejuni. Strains shown are those within Campylobacter jejuni having corresponding NCBI genome project IDs listed below. The strains and their corresponding GenBank accession numbers (and, when applicable, draft sequence coordinates) for 16S rRNA genes are (type=T): C. jejuni subsp. jejuni NCTC 11168T, AL11168; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni M1, CP001900; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 81116, CP000814; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 260.94, AANK01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni HB93-13, AANQ01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 1336, ADGL01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 327, ADHM00000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 81-176, CP000538; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 414, ADGM01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni IA3902, CP001876; C. jejuni subsp. doylei 269.97, CP000768; C. coli JV20, AEER01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni BH-01-0142, ABKD01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni CF93-6, AANJ01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni RM1221, CP000025; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 84-25, AANT02000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 305, ADHL00000000; C. coli RM2228, AAFL01000000; C. jejuni subsp. jejuni DFVF1099, ADHK00000000; C. lari RM2100, CP000932; C. upsaliensis RM3195, AAFJ01000000; C. fetus subsp. fetus 82-40, CP000487; C. fetus subsp. venerealis str. Azul-94, ACLG01000000; C. concisus 13826, CP000792; C. curvus 52592, CP000767; C. hominis ATCC. BAA-381, CP000776; C. gracilis RM3268, ACYG01000000; C. rectus RM3267, ACFU01000000; C. showae RM3277, ACVQ01000000; Campylobacterales bacterium GD 1, ABXD01000000; E. coli str K-12 substr MG1655, U00096. The tree uses sequences aligned by PRANK [23-25], which by default uses the Hasegawa, Kishino and Yano (HKY) model with empirical base frequencies and kappa=2. The tree is built with MEGA4 [26] using Neighbor-Joining method and 1000 re-samplings to calculate bootstrap values. C. jejuni 327 is found in the C jejuni subsp. jejuni cluster that has a 100% bootstrap value along with the C. coli species. E. coli K-12 was used as an outgroup.


All Campylobacter species contained menaquinone-6 (2-methyl-3-farnesyl-farnesyl-1,4-naphthoquinone) and methyl-substituted menaquinone-6 (2,[5 or 8]-dimethyl-3-farnesyl-farnesyl-1,4-napthoquinone) as the major isoprenoid quinones. The latter menaquinone has not been reported in other bacteria and may prove to be a useful chemical marker of Campylobacter species. Campylobacter jejuni and most strains of Campylobacter coli were distinguished from other Campylobacter species by the presence of a Cl9 cyclopropane fatty acid acid in whole cell hydrolysates [21,27]

Genome sequencing and annotation

Genome project history

Campylobacter jejuni strain 327, one of the strains present in a turkey production line, was isolated from turkey skin surface swabs [20], and was selected for sequencing based on the sensitivity to environmental conditions in food-related environments [28]. Sequencing and finishing were performed by the Department of Biology (KU-NAT) and the Institute of Food Science (IFV) at the University of Copenhagen. The annotation was performed by the Institute for Genome Science (IGS, University of Maryland). The manual curation was completed by IFV and will be presented for public access with the publication of the Genome Announcement article. Genome analysis was performed by the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis (CBS) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The Whole Genome Shotgun (WGS) project has been deposited at DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank under the project ID 41643 and accession number ADHM01000000. A summary of the project information is shown in Table 1 and Table 2 according to the Minimum Information about a Genomic Sequence (MIGS) recommendations [29].

Table 2

Genome sequencing project information





    Sequencing platform

     454 Life Sciences


    Finishing quality

     Improved high-quality draft


    Fold coverage

     20 ×


    Genome database release

     with SIGS publication

    GenBank ID


    Genbank Date of Release

     with SIGS publication

    Project relevance

     Food safety

Growth conditions and DNA isolation

The turkey strain 327 was provided by Thomas Alter [20], and showed a sensitive phenotype to gentle food processing stresses [28]. C. jejuni cells were grown at 42 °C under microaerobic conditions (5% O2, 10% CO2, 85% N2). Stocks were stored at -80°C in Brain Heart Infusion broth (BHI) (Oxoid CM225, England) supplemented with 15% glycerol. The frozen stocks were transferred to Blood Agar Base No.2 (Oxoid CM271, England) amended with 5% horse blood and incubated in a microaerobic atmosphere (5% O2, 10% CO2, 85% N2) at 42 °C for 24–72 h. The respective cultures were subsequently re-streaked on Blood Agar Base No.2 plates. After 24 hours of growth, a 3/4 loop-full of bacteria was resuspended in 1 ml phosphate buffered saline (PBS, Oxoid BR0014, England) and vortexed to ensure no bacterial clumps. Cells were centrifuged at 14,000 × g using a benchtop Sartorius centrifuge (model Sigma 1-14) and the medium was decanted. The cells were resuspended in 200 µl PBS for genomic DNA isolation using the Easy-DNATM Kit (Invitrogen, K1800-01). The protocol was followed as described by the manufacturer. A yield of approximately 10 mg of total genomic DNA was obtained for each C. jejuni strain.

Genome sequencing and assembly

Pyrosequencing of C. jejuni strain 327 was performed on a Genome Sequencer GS FLX System (454 Life Sciences, Branford, CT, USA) at the Faculty of Biology, University of Copenhagen (KU-NAT). GS FLX sequencing was performed following the manufacturer’s protocol with minor modifications. Briefly, library preparations were done from 3μg of DNA using the shotgun library protocol with Multiplex Identifiers (MID) tags for each bacteria/sample, and DNA was released using heat instead of NaOH [30,31]. Libraries were quantified by qPCR as described in [32], and sequenced on a full GS FLX-LR70 plate. Genome sequences resulted in sequence reads which passed the length and quality criteria of the machine software. Draft assemblies were based on 134,679 total reads with 20-fold coverage of the genome. The 454 data files were loaded into the CLC Genomics Workbench version 3.7.1 (CLC Bio, Aarhus, Denmark). The initial reference was created using the human clinical strain 81116 [33] (NCTC 11828) as scaffold, yielding 133,175 matched reads (99% of match). For de novo assembly the 134,679 sequence reads were condensed to 48 contigs.

Genome annotation

The C. jejuni genome sequences were automatically annotated using the Annotation Engine and the initial GenBank files were generated at the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS, University of Maryland). These annotations and the GenBank files were further refined and corrected at the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis (CBS) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) by reference to codon usage, positional base preference methods and comparisons to the non-redundant protein databases using BLAST [34]. In-house Perl scripts from CBS and the Sequin program provided by NCBI [35] were used in this refinement process. The entire DNA sequence was also compared in all six potential reading frames against UniProt. Furthermore, the RNAmmer 1.2 server was used for ribosomal RNA predictions of 5S, 16S, and 23S [36]. The outcome of all these predictions was corrected on September 14th 2010.

Genome properties

The C. jejuni 327 genome was found to be 1,618,613 bp long, and contains 1,740 protein coding genes as identified with the gene prediction program Prodigal version 1.20 [37], Table 3). The average G+C content is 30.4%, and there are 43 tRNAs and 5 rRNA genes found using the respective prediction server [36,40]. C. jejuni strain 327 does not contain any plasmids. Strain 327 contains 10 homopolymeric G tracts (HGTs, defined as tracts of >7 consecutive G-residues), fewer than the other complete genome sequences described to date (29 in NCTC 11168, 25 in RM1221 and 19 in 81-176 [41-43]). Variation in the length of homopolymeric G tracts may be produced by slipped-strand mispairing during replication [44], and can evolutionarily affect changes on the genome sequence. Thus, the number of hypervariable G tracts can give important hints on the genetic stability of the strain of C. jejuni studied. Of the 1,786 genes predicted, 1,740 were protein-coding genes, and 5 rRNA genes; 7 pseudogenes were identified. The majority of the protein-coding genes (97%) were assigned with a putative function while the remaining ones were annotated as hypothetical proteins. The distribution of genes into COGs functional categories is presented in Table 4.

Table 3

Genome Statistics



    % of Total

Genome size (bp)



DNA coding region (bp)



DNA G+C content (bp)



Number of replicons


Extrachromosomal elements


Total genes



tRNA genes



rRNA genes



Protein-coding genes



Pseudo genes



Genes with function prediction



Genes in paralog clusters



Genes assigned to COGs



Genes assigned Pfam domains *



Genes with signal peptides [38]



Genes with transmembrane helices



CRISPR repeats [39]


* E-value cutoff is 0.05.

Table 4

Number of genes associated with the general COG functional categories








    Translation, ribosomal structure and biogenesis




    RNA processing and modification








    Replication, recombination and repair




    Chromatin structure and dynamics




    Cell cycle control, mitosis and meiosis




    Nuclear structure




    Defense mechanisms




    Signal transduction mechanisms




    Cell wall/membrane biogenesis




    Cell motility








    Extracellular structures




    Intracellular trafficking and secretion. and vesicular transport




    Posttranslational modification. protein turnover. chaperones




    Energy production and conversion




    Carbohydrate transport and metabolism




    Amino acid transport and metabolism




    Nucleotide transport and metabolism




    Coenzyme transport and metabolism




    Lipid transport and metabolism




    Inorganic ion transport and metabolism




    Secondary metabolites biosynthesis, transport and catabolism




    General function prediction only




    Function unknown




    Not in COGs

Genome Atlas construction

The genome atlas of C. jejuni subsp. jejuni 327 was generated using the Genewiz program (Figure 2). In order to create the atlas, a FASTA file containing the nucleotide sequence in one piece and an annotation file showing the position of the genes were used. The FASTA file was created by concatenating the nucleotide sequences of the contigs. In the atlas, gene annotation, base content, AT and GC skew, percent AT and some structural properties of the DNA were shown. The structural properties are Position Preference, Stacking Energy and Intrinsic curvature which are all related to the flexibility and strength of the DNA molecule [45].

Figure 2

Genome Atlas of C. jejuni strain 327. The legend to the right explains what is represented from the outer to the inner circle. Shown are the fraction of each nucleotide along the genome (first four circles counting inwards), the coding sequences on the positive (clockwise strand), the AT and GC skew, and the percent AT.

Available sequence data from completed strains (NCTC 11168, 81116 (NCTC 11828), RM1221, 81–176, 269.97, M1) and ongoing C. jejuni sequencing projects (strains 84–25, 260-94, HB93-13, CF93-6, CG8421, CG8486) obtained from the NCBI database at the time of writing, were used for homology searching of genes in selected loci using the program BLASTP [34]. It revealed a high protein sequence homology with strain 81116 (NCTC 11828), first isolated from a case of campylobacteriosis associated with a human waterborne outbreak [46]. The initial reference assembly using strain 81116 [33] (NCTC 11828) as scaffold created 133,175 matched reads (99% of match). In addition, C. jejuni 327 genome contains only a single tonB gene as compared to 2 or 3 genes in other C. jejuni strains, and lacks the ferric enterobactin uptake receptor CfrA and TonB-dependent outer membrane receptor for iron uptake [47]. Strain 327 also lacks the transcriptional regulator mar A (multiple antibiotic resistance) locus, first described for E. coli [48]. The marA locus mediates global stress response and affects the expression of iron-sulfur cluster proteins involved in sensing O2 and iron. The lack of this gene could explain the phenotype of strain 327 observed under some environmental stresses [28].



We acknowledge the Danish Directorate for Food, Fisheries and Agriculture, grant number 93S-953-00090, for funding the whole genome shotgun sequence project of strain 327, and the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) Annotation Engine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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