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Molecular Epidemiology of Methicillin-Susceptible and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Wild, Captive and Laboratory Rats: Effect of Habitat on the Nasal S. aureus Population

Affiliation
Department of Immunology, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany ; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Alexandria University, Alexandria 21521, Egypt
Raafat, Dina;
Affiliation
Department of Immunology, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany
Mrochen, Daniel M.;
Affiliation
Department of Immunology, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany
Al’Sholui, Fawaz;
GND
1144498570
Affiliation
Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany
Heuser, Elisa;
GND
1059920832
Affiliation
Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany
Ryll, René;
Affiliation
Research and Professional Services, Charles River Laboratories, Wilmington, MA 01887, USA
Pritchett‐Corning, Kathleen R.;
GND
122411307
Affiliation
Julius Kühn-Institute (JKI), Institute for Plant Protection in Horticulture and Forests, Germany
Jacob, Jens;
GND
105898585X
Affiliation
Julius Kühn-Institute (JKI), Institute for Plant Protection in Horticulture and Forests, Germany
Walther, Bernd;
Affiliation
Outpatient Clinic, University of Potsdam, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
Matuschka, Franz‐Rainer;
Affiliation
Institute of Geoecology, Landscape Ecology & Environmental Systems Analysis, Technische Universität Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
Richter, Dania;
Affiliation
von Opel Hessische Zoostiftung, 61476 Kronberg im Taunus, Germany
Westerhüs, Uta;
Affiliation
Department of Ecology and Diseases of Game, Fish and Bees, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, 61242 Brno, Czech Republic ; CEITEC—Central European Institute of Technology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, 61242 Brno, Czech Republic
Pikula, Jiri;
Affiliation
Central Core & Research Facility of Laboratory Animals, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany
van den Brandt, Jens;
Affiliation
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Microbiological Diagnostics, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Nicklas, Werner;
Affiliation
Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT), 07745 Jena, Germany ; Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Technical University of Dresden, 01307 Dresden, Germany
Monecke, Stefan;
Affiliation
National Reference Centre for Staphylococci and Enterococci, Robert-Koch-Institute, Wernigerode Branch, 38855 Wernigerode, Germany
Strommenger, Birgit;
Affiliation
Institute of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany
van Alen, Sarah;
Affiliation
Institute of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany ; Friedrich Loeffler-Institute of Medical Microbiology, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany
Becker, Karsten;
GND
1019565543
Affiliation
Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany ; German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner Site Hamburg-Lübeck-Borstel-Insel Riems, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany
Ulrich, Rainer;
Affiliation
Department of Immunology, University Medicine Greifswald, 17475 Greifswald, Germany
Holtfreter, Silva

Rats are a reservoir of human- and livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). However, the composition of the natural S. aureus population in wild and laboratory rats is largely unknown. Here, 144 nasal S. aureus isolates from free-living wild rats, captive wild rats and laboratory rats were genotyped and profiled for antibiotic resistances and human-specific virulence genes. The nasal S. aureus carriage rate was higher among wild rats (23.4%) than laboratory rats (12.3%). Free-living wild rats were primarily colonized with isolates of clonal complex (CC) 49 and CC130 and maintained these strains even in husbandry. Moreover, upon livestock contact, CC398 isolates were acquired. In contrast, laboratory rats were colonized with many different S. aureus lineages—many of which are commonly found in humans. Five captive wild rats were colonized with CC398-MRSA. Moreover, a single CC30-MRSA and two CC130-MRSA were detected in free-living or captive wild rats. Rat-derived S. aureus isolates rarely harbored the phage-carried immune evasion gene cluster or superantigen genes, suggesting long-term adaptation to their host. Taken together, our study revealed a natural S. aureus population in wild rats, as well as a colonization pressure on wild and laboratory rats by exposure to livestock- and human-associated S. aureus, respectively.

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