Group | Tuberculosis Ecology and Evolution

The Tuberculosis Ecology and Evolution Group studies the causes and consequences of genetic diversity in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC), the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB). We combine various disciplines to study the global diversity of the MTBC, the evolutionary forces that drive this diversity, and the phenotypic consequences of this diversity for the biology and the epidemiology of TB.

Our research comprises three complementary arms:

  • The global population structure of the MTBC
  • Ecology and evolution of drug-resistant MTBC
  • Genomic epidemiology of TB
Sébastien Gagneux

Sébastien Gagneux, Associate Professor, PhD

The Global Population Structure of the MTBC

The human-adapted MTBC comprises seven phylogenetic lineages that are associated with different regions of the world. We use comparative whole genome sequencing to study the differences between these lineages and the evolutionary forces shaping this diversity. We combine various –omics technologies with functional assays and epidemiological data to investigate the phenotypic consequences of this diversity. Read more

The Ecology and Evolution of Drug-resistant MTBC

Drug resistance poses a growing threat to global health. When drug-resistant bacteria first emerge, they are often less transmissible than susceptible strains – this is because drug resistance in bacteria is often associated with a reduction in Darwinian fitness. However, evolution is a continuous process, and drug-resistant bacteria readily adapt and regain the ability to transmit. This process is mediated by compensatory mutations. Further information

Genomic epidemiology of TB

Recent advances in whole-genome sequencing have revolutionized molecular epidemiological investigation of TB. We use such genomic epidemiological approaches to study the transmission dynamics of TB in Switzerland and in TB-endemic countries. We also explore the micro-evolution of MTBC in individual patients during treatment. More information

Arbues A, Brees D, Chibout S.D, Fox T, Kammuller M, Portevin D. TNF-alpha antagonists differentially induce TGF-beta1-dependent resuscitation of dormant-like Mycobacterium tuberculosis. PLoS Pathog. 2020;16(2):e1008312. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008312

Asare P et al. Whole genome sequencing and spatial analysis identifies recent tuberculosis transmission hotspots in Ghana. Front Med (Lausanne). 2020;7:161. DOI: 10.3389/fmed.2020.00161

Avanzi C et al. Population genomics of Mycobacterium leprae reveals a new genotype in Madagascar and the Comoros. Front Microbiol. 2020;11:711. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00711

Avanzi C, Singh P, Truman R.W, Suffys P.N. Molecular epidemiology of leprosy: an update. Infect Genet Evol. 2020(in press):104581. DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2020.104581

Castro R.A.D et al. The genetic background modulates the evolution of fluoroquinolone-resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Mol Biol Evol. 2020;37(1):195-207. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msz214