The population structure and diversity of Lactococcus garvieae, an emerging pathogen of increasing clinical significance, was determined at both gene and genome level. Selected lactococcal isolates of various origins were analyzed by a multi locus sequence typing (MLST). This gene-based analysis was compared to genomic characteristics, estimated through the complete genome sequences available in database. The MLST identified two branches containing the majority of the strains and two branches bearing one strain each. One strain was particularly differentiated from the other L. garvieae strains, showing a significant genetic distance. The genomic characteristics, correlated to the MLST-based phylogeny, indicated that this "separated strain" appeared first and could be considered the evolutionary intermediate between Lactococcus lactis and L. garvieae main clusters. A preliminary genome analysis of L. garvieae indicated a pan-genome constituted of about 4100 genes, which included 1341 core genes and 2760 genes belonging to the dispensable genome. A total of 1491 Clusters of Orthologous Genes (COGs) were found to be specific to the 11 L. garvieae genomes, with the genome of the "separated strain" showing the highest presence of unique genes.
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