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Candidatus Mycoplasma girerdii replicates, diversifies, and co-occurs with Trichomonas vaginalis in the oral cavity of a premature infant.


Genital mycoplasmas, which can be vertically transmitted, have been implicated in preterm birth, neonatal infections, and chronic lung disease of prematurity. Our prior work uncovered 16S rRNA genes belonging to a novel, as-yet-uncultivated mycoplasma (lineage 'Mnola') in the oral cavity of a premature neonate. Here, we characterize the organism's associated community, growth status, metabolic potential, and population diversity. Sequencing of genomic DNA from the infant's saliva yielded 1.44 Gbp of high-quality, non-human read data, from which we recovered three essentially complete (including 'Mnola') and three partial draft genomes (including Trichomonas vaginalis). The completed 629,409-bp 'Mnola' genome (Candidatus Mycoplasma girerdii str. UC-B3) was distinct at the strain level from its closest relative, vaginally-derived Ca. M. girerdii str. VCU-M1, which is also associated with T. vaginalis. Replication rate measurements indicated growth of str. UC-B3 within the infant. Genes encoding surface-associated proteins and restriction-modification systems were especially diverse within and between strains. In UC-B3, the population genetic underpinnings of phase variable expression were evident in vivo. Unique among mycoplasmas, Ca. M. girerdii encodes pyruvate-ferredoxin oxidoreductase and may be sensitive to metronidazole. This study reveals a metabolically unique mycoplasma colonizing a premature neonate, and establishes the value of genome-resolved metagenomics in tracking phase variation.

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