Mycobacterium avium (M. a.) subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is a worldwide-distributed obligate pathogen in ruminants causing Johne’s disease. Due to a lack of complete subtype III genome sequences, there is not yet conclusive information about genetic differences between strains of cattle (MAP-C, type II) and sheep (MAP-S) type, and especially between MAP-S subtypes I, and III.

Here we present the complete, circular genome of MAP-S/type III strain JIII-386 (DE) closed by Nanopore-technology and its comparison with MAP-S/type I closed genome of strain Telford (AUS), MAP-S/type III draft genome of strain S397 (U.S.), twelve closed MAP-C strains, and eight closed M.-a.-complex-strains. Structural comparative alignments revealed clearly the mosaic nature of MAP, emphasized differences between the subtypes and the higher diversity of MAP-S genomes.

The comparison of various genomic elements including transposases and genomic islands provide new insights in MAP genomics. MAP type specific phenotypic features may be attributed to genes of known large sequence polymorphisms (LSPSs) regions I–IV and deletions #1 and #2, confirmed here, but could also result from identified frameshifts or interruptions of various virulence-associated genes (e.g., mbtC in MAP-S).

Comprehensive core and pan genome analysis uncovered unique genes (e.g., cytochromes) and genes probably acquired by horizontal gene transfer in different MAP-types and subtypes, but also emphasized the highly conserved and close relationship, and the complex evolution of M.-a.-strains.

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