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Use of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) for routine mycobacterial species identification and drug susceptibility testing (DST) is becoming a reality. We compared the performances of WGS and standard laboratory workflows prospectively, by parallel processing at a major mycobacterial reference service over the course of 1 year, for species identification, first-line Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance prediction, and turnaround time. Among 2,039 isolates with line probe assay results for species identification, 74 (3.6%) failed sequencing or WGS species identification. Excluding these isolates, clinically important species were identified for 1,902 isolates, of which 1,825 (96.0%) were identified as the same species by WGS and the line probe assay. A total of 2,157 line probe test results for detection of resistance to the first-line drugs isoniazid and rifampin were available for 728 M. tuberculosis complex isolates. Excluding 216 (10.0%) cases where there were insufficient sequencing data for WGS to make a prediction, overall concordance was 99.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 98.9 to 99.6%), sensitivity was 97.6% (91.7 to 99.7%), and specificity was 99.5% (99.0 to 99.7%). A total of 2,982 phenotypic DST results were available for 777 M. tuberculosis complex isolates. Of these, 356 (11.9%) had no WGS comparator due to insufficient sequencing data, and in 154 (5.2%) cases the WGS prediction was indeterminate due to discovery of novel, previously uncharacterized mutations. Excluding these data, overall concordance was 99.2% (98.7 to 99.5%), sensitivity was 94.2% (88.4 to 97.6%), and specificity was 99.4% (99.0 to 99.7%). Median processing times for the routine laboratory tests versus WGS were similar overall, i.e., 20 days (interquartile range [IQR], 15 to 31 days) and 21 days (15 to 29 days), respectively (P = 0.41). In conclusion, WGS predicts species and drug susceptibility with great accuracy, but work is needed to increase the proportion of predictions made.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Microbiol

Publication Date





WGS, line probe assay, mycobacteria, phenotype, whole-genome sequencing, Antitubercular Agents, Drug Resistance, Bacterial, Genome, Bacterial, Humans, Isoniazid, Molecular Typing, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Prospective Studies, Rifampin, Sensitivity and Specificity, Time Factors, Tuberculosis