Real-time Nanopore Q20+ Sequencing enables extremely fast and accurate core genome MLST typing and democratizes access to high-resolution bacterial pathogen surveillance

in: Journal of Clinical Microbiology (2023)
Wagner, Gabriel E.; Lipp, Michaela; Cabal, Adriana; Lichtenegger, Sabine; Ehricht, Ralf; Leitner, Eva; Ruppitsch, Werner; Steinmetz, Ivo; Dabernig-Heinz, Johanna; Simantzik, Jonathan; Kohl, Matthias; Scheiber, Martina
Next-generation whole-genome sequencing is essential for high-resolution surveillance of bacterial pathogens, for example, during outbreak investigations or for source tracking and escape variant analysis. However, current global sequencing and bioinformatics bottlenecks and a long time to result with standard technologies demand new approaches. In this study, we investigated whether novel nanopore Q201 long-read chemistry enables standardized and easily accessible high-resolution typing combined with core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST). We set high requirements for discriminatory power by using the slowly evolving bacterium Bordetella pertussis as a model pathogen. Our results show that the increased raw read accuracy enables the description of epidemiological scenarios and phylogenetic linkages at the level of gold-standard short reads. The same was true for our variant analysis of vaccine antigens, resistance genes, and virulence factors, demonstrating that nanopore sequencing is a legitimate competitor in the area of next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based high-resolution bacterial typing. Furthermore, we evaluated the parameters for the fastest possible analysis of the data. By combining the optimized processing pipeline with real-time basecalling, we established a workflow that allows for highly accurate and extremely fast high-resolution typing of bacterial pathogens while sequencing is still in progress. Along with advantages such as low costs and portability, the approach suggested here might democratize modern bacterial typing, enabling more efficient infection control globally.

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