Leukocidin genes lukF-P83 and lukM are associated with Staphylococcus aureus clonal complexes 151, 479 and 133 isolated from bovine udder infections in Thuringia, Germany
Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most important causal agents of bovine mastitis. Population studies on bovine Staphylococcus aureus isolates have identified considerable genetic heterogeneity among strains causing mastitis. The aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of different clonal complexes and the occurrence of virulence factors and resistance determinants within bovine Staphylococcus aureus isolates. A total of 189 Staphylococcus aureus isolates obtained from milk samples of 34 dairy herds in the German Federal State of Thuringia were characterised by microarray technology. The isolates were assigned to eleven different clonal complexes with CC151, CC479 and CC133 being dominant (together 80.5%). The methicillin resistance gene mecA was found in four isolates (2.1%), which belonged to CC398. Enterotoxin genes could be detected in 79.3% of analysed Staphylococcus aureus and 19 isolates (10.1%) harboured a distinct allele of the toxic shock syndrome toxin gene, tst-RF122. The most striking finding of the present study was that almost all except one isolate (151/152) belonging to CC151, CC479 and CC133 harboured the leukocidin genes lukF-P83 and lukM, whereas no further isolates from other lineages possessed these genes. The consistent occurrence of lukF-P83/lukM in the dominating clonal complexes suggests an essential role of this leukocidin in the etiology of bovine mastitis.