The biology and epidemiology of Mycobacterium africanum

Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Bouke C de Jong, Florian Gehre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


West Africa is the only region in the world where six out of seven mycobacterial lineages of human importance are endemic. In particular, two evolutionary ancient lineages, Mycobacterium africanum West Africa 1 (MTBC Lineage 5) and M. africanum West Africa 2 (MTBC Lineage 6) are of interest as they cause up to 40% of all pulmonary TB cases in some West African countries. Although these M. africanum lineages are closely related to M. tuberculosis sensu stricto lineages, they differ significantly in respect to biology, epidemiology and in their potential to cause disease in humans. Most importantly the M. africanum lineages are exclusive to West Africa. Although the exact mechanisms underlying this geographical restriction are still not understood, it is increasingly suspected that this is due to an adaptation of the bacteria to West African host populations. In this chapter, we summarize the geographical distribution of the M. africanum lineages within the region, describe biological and clinical differences and the consequent implications for TB control in West Africa. We also try to shed light on the geographical restriction, based on recently published analyses on whole genomes of M. africanum isolates.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStrain variation in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex : its role in biology, epidemiology and control
EditorsSebastien Gagneux
Number of pages17
Publication date2017
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-64369-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Journal Article


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