Clostridium difficile in soil conditioners, mulches and garden mixes with evidence of a clonal relationship with historical food and clinical isolates
Environmental Microbiology Reports
School of Medical and Health Sciences
© 2020 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd With rates of community-associated Clostridium difficile infection (CA-CDI) increasing worldwide, potential reservoirs/sources of C. difficile in the community are being sought. Since C. difficile is found in animal manure and human biosolids, which are composted for agricultural purposes, composted products could be a source. In this study, the presence of C. difficile in composted products, and their genetic relatedness to other previously isolated strains from humans, root vegetables and the environment in Western Australia, was investigated. Overall, C. difficile was found in 22.5% (16/71) of composted products [29.7% (11/37) of soil conditioners, 16.7% (2/12) of mulches and 13.6% (3/22) of garden mixes]. Fifteen C. difficile PCR ribotypes (RTs) were identified, the most common toxigenic strains being RTs 020 and 056. Clostridium difficile RT 056 is commonly associated with CDI in humans and has also been isolated from cattle, root vegetables and the environment (veterinary clinics and lawn) in Australia. High-resolution core-genome analysis of 29 C. difficile RT 056 strains revealed clonal relationships between isolates derived from humans, vegetables, composted products and the environment. These findings provide support for an intricate transmission network between human, food and the environment, further highlighting the importance of a ‘One Health’ approach for managing CDI.