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Evolutionary history of rat-borne Bartonella: the importance of commensal rats in the dissemination of bacterial infections globally
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    Emerging pathogens that originate from invasive species have caused numerous significant epidemics. Some bacteria of genus Bartonella are rodent-borne pathogens that can cause disease in humans and animals alike. We analyzed gltA sequences of 191 strains of rat-associated bartonellae from 29 rodent species from 17 countries to test the hypotheses that this bacterial complex evolved and diversified in Southeast Asia before being disseminated by commensal rats Rattus rattus (black rat) and Rattus norvegicus (Norway rat) to other parts of the globe. The analysis suggests that there have been numerous dispersal events within Asia and introductions from Asia to other regions, with six major clades containing Southeast Asian isolates that appear to have been dispersed globally. Phylogeographic analyses support the hypotheses that these bacteria originated in Southeast Asia and commensal rodents (R. rattus and R. norvegicus) play key roles in the evolution and dissemination of this Bartonella complex throughout the world.

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