The multilocus sequence typing network: mlst.net.
Aanensen DM., Spratt BG.
The unambiguous characterization of strains of a pathogen is crucial for addressing questions relating to its epidemiology, population and evolutionary biology. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST), which defines strains from the sequences at seven house-keeping loci, has become the method of choice for molecular typing of many bacterial and fungal pathogens (and non-pathogens), and MLST schemes and strain databases are available for a growing number of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Sequence data are ideal for strain characterization as they are unambiguous, meaning strains can readily be compared between laboratories via the Internet. Laboratories undertaking MLST can quickly progress from sequencing the seven gene fragments to characterizing their strains and relating them to those submitted by others and to the population as a whole. We provide the gateway to a number of MLST schemes, each of which contain a set of tools for the initial characterization of strains, and methods for relating query strains to other strains of the species, including clustering based on differences in allelic profiles, phylogenetic trees based on concatenated sequences, and a recently developed method (eBURST) for identifying clonal complexes within a species and displaying the overall structure of the population. This network of MLST websites is available at http://www.mlst.net.