Use of a Pan–Genomic DNA Microarray in Determination of the Phylogenetic Relatedness among Cronobacter spp. and Its Use as a Data Mining Tool to Understand Cronobacter Biology

Ben D. Tall*, Jayanthi Gangiredla, Christopher J. Grim, Isha R. Patel, Scott A. Jackson, Mark K. Mammel, Mahendra H. Kothary, Venugopal Sathyamoorthy, Laurenda Carter, Séamus Fanning, Carol Iversen, Franco Pagotto, Roger Stephan, Angelika Lehner, Jeffery Farber, Qiong Q. Yan, Gopal R. Gopinath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Cronobacter (previously known as Enterobacter sakazakii) is a genus of Gram-negative, facultatively anaerobic, oxidase-negative, catalase-positive, rod-shaped bacteria of the family Enterobacteriaceae. These organisms cause a variety of illnesses such as meningitis, necrotizing enterocolitis, and septicemia in neonates and infants, and urinary tract, wound, abscesses or surgical site infections, septicemia, and pneumonia in adults. The total gene content of 379 strains of Cronobacter spp. and taxonomically-related isolates was determined using a recently reported DNA microarray. The Cronobacter microarray as a genotyping tool gives the global food safety community a rapid method to identify and capture the total genomic content of outbreak isolates for food safety, environmental, and clinical surveillance purposes. It was able to differentiate the seven Cronobacter species from one another and from non-Cronobacter species. The microarray was also able to cluster strains within each species into well-defined subgroups. These results also support previous studies on the phylogenic separation of species members of the genus and clearly highlight the evolutionary sequence divergence among each species of the genus compared to phylogenetically-related species. This review extends these studies and illustrates how the microarray can also be used as an investigational tool to mine genomic data sets from strains. Three case studies describing the use of the microarray are shown and include: (1) the determination of allelic differences among Cronobacter sakazakii strains possessing the virulence plasmid pESA3; (2) mining of malonate and myo-inositol alleles among subspecies of Cronobacter dublinensis strains to determine subspecies identity; and (3) lastly using the microarray to demonstrate sequence divergence and phylogenetic relatedness trends for 13 outer-membrane protein alleles among 240 Cronobacter and phylogenetically-related strains. The goal of this review is to describe microarrays as a robust tool for genomics research of this assorted and important genus, a criterion toward the development of future preventative measures to eliminate this foodborne pathogen from the global food supply.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 04 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the student internship programs of the International Offices of Kyungpook National University, Daegu, and Gachon University, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea, for sponsoring student interns: Boram Lee, Eunbi Park, Hyerim Choi, JiHyeon Park, Seungeun Jeong, and YeonJoo Yoo, TaeJung Chung, SoYoung Jun, and Mijeong Kim, respectively. We thank the Office of Undergraduate Research and Internship Programs, the Joint institute of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, for sponsoring student interns Hannah R. Chase, Flavia Negrete, and Samantha Finkelstein. Lastly, we thank the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for sponsoring research fellow Hannah. R. Chase. Funds supporting this work were obtained internally through U.S. FDA appropriations.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cronobacter
  • data mining
  • microarray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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