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Characterisation and Molecular Analysis of an Unusual Chimeric Methicillin Staphylococcus aureus Strain and its Bacteriophages

In the context of microarray-based epidemiological typing of the clonal organism Staphylococcus aureus/MRSA, a strain was identified that did not belong to known clonal complexes. The molecular analysis by microarray-based typing yielded signals suggesting that it was a mosaic or hybrid strain of two lineages. To verify this result, the isolate was sequenced with both, short-read Illumina and long-read Nanopore technologies and analysed in detail. This supported the hypothesis that the genome of this strain, ST6610-MRSA-IVg comprised of segments originating from two different clonal complexes (CC). While the backbone of the strain´s genome, i.e., roughly 2 megabases, belongs to CC8, a continuous insert of 894 kb (approx. 30% of the genome) originated from CC140. Beside core genomic markers in the normal succession and orientation, this insert also included the mecA gene, coding for PbP2a and causing methicillin resistance , localised on an SCCmec IVg element. This particular SCCmec type was also previously observed in CC140 MRSA from African countries. A second conspicuous observation was the presence of the trimethoprim resistance gene dfrG within on a prophage that occupied an attachment site normally used by Panton-Valentine Leucocidin (PVL) phages. This observation could indicate a role of large-scale chromosomal recombination in the evolution of S. aureus as well as a role of phages in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes.



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