Mycobacterium tuberculosis remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Studies have reported human pathogens to have geographically structured population genetics, some of which have been linked to ancient human migrations. However, no study has addressed the potential evolutionary consequences of such longstanding human-pathogen associations. Here, we demonstrate that the global population structure of M. tuberculosis is defined by six phylogeographical lineages, each associated with specific, sympatric human populations. In an urban cosmopolitan environment, mycobacterial lineages were much more likely to spread in sympatric than in allopatric patient populations. Tuberculosis cases that did occur in allopatric hosts disproportionately involved high-risk individuals with impaired host resistance. These observations suggest that mycobacterial lineages are adapted to particular human populations. If confirmed, our findings have important implications for tuberculosis control and vaccine development.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 21 Feb 2006|