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<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Reference and type strains of well-known bacteria have been a cornerstone of microbiology research for decades. The sharing of well-characterised isolates among laboratories has parallelised research efforts and enhanced the reproducibility of experiments, leading to a wealth of knowledge about trait variation in different species and the underlying genetics. <jats:italic>Campylobacter jejuni</jats:italic> strain NCTC 11168, deposited at the National Collection of Type Cultures in 1977, has been adopted widely as a reference strain by researchers worldwide and was the first <jats:italic>Campylobacter</jats:italic> for which the complete genome was published (in 2000). In this study, we collected 23 <jats:italic>C. jejuni</jats:italic> NCTC 11168 reference isolates from laboratories across the UK and compared variation in simple laboratory phenotypes with genetic variation in sequenced genomes. Putatively identical isolates identified previously to have aberrant phenotypes varied by up to 281 SNPs (in 15 genes) compared to the most recent reference strain. Isolates also display considerable phenotype variation in motility, morphology, growth at 37°C, invasion of chicken and human cell lines and susceptibility to ampicillin. This study provides evidence of ongoing evolutionary change among <jats:italic>C. jejuni</jats:italic> isolates as they are cultured in different laboratories and highlights the need for careful consideration of genetic variation within laboratory reference strains.</jats:p><jats:sec><jats:title>Impact statement</jats:title><jats:p>In this paper, we comment on the changing role of laboratory reference strains. While the model organism allows basic comparison within and among laboratories, it is important to remember the effect even small differences in isolate genomes can have on the validity and reproducibility of experimental work. We quantify differences in 23 reference <jats:italic>Campylobacter</jats:italic> genomes and compare them with observable differences in common laboratory phenotypes.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Data summary</jats:title><jats:p>Short read data are archived on the NCBI SRA associated with BioProject accession PRJNA517467 (<jats:ext-link xmlns:xlink="" ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href=""></jats:ext-link>).</jats:p><jats:p>All assembled genomes are also available on FigShare (doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.7849268). Phylogeny visualised on microreact: <jats:ext-link xmlns:xlink="" ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href=""></jats:ext-link>.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Repositories</jats:title><jats:p>Short read data are archived on the NCBI SRA repository, associated with BioProject accession PRJNA517467 (<jats:ext-link xmlns:xlink="" ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href=""></jats:ext-link>; <jats:bold>Table S1</jats:bold>).</jats:p><jats:p>The authors confirm all supporting data, code and protocols have been provided within the article or through supplementary data files.</jats:p></jats:sec>

Original publication




Journal article


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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