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Sequence Analysis of Novel Staphylococcus aureus Lineages from Wild and Captive Macaques

Staphylococcus aureus is a widespread and common opportunistic bacterium that can colonise or infect humans as well as a wide range of animals. There are a few studies of both methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolated from monkeys, apes, and lemurs, indicating a presence of a number of poorly or unknown lineages of the pathogen. In order to obtain insight into staphylococcal diversity, we sequenced strains from wild and captive individuals of three macaque species (Macaca mulatta, M. assamensis, and M. sylvanus) using Nanopore and Illumina technologies. These strains were previously identified by microarray as poorly or unknown strains. Isolates of novel lineages ST4168, ST7687, ST7688, ST7689, ST7690, ST7691, ST7692, ST7693, ST7694, ST7695, ST7745, ST7746, ST7747, ST7748, ST7749, ST7750, ST7751, ST7752, ST7753, and ST7754 were sequenced and characterised for the first time. In addition, isolates belonging to ST2990, a lineage also observed in humans, and ST3268, a MRSA strain already known from macaques, were also included into the study. Mobile genetic elements, genomic islands, and carriage of prophages were analysed. There was no evidence for novel host-specific virulence factors. However, a conspicuously high rate of carriage of a pathogenicity island harbouring edinB and etD2/etE as well as a higher number of repeat units within the gene sasG (encoding an adhesion factor) than in human isolates were observed. None of the strains harboured the genes encoding Panton–Valentine leukocidin. In conclusion, wildlife including macaques may harbour an unappreciated diversity of S. aureus lineages that may be of clinical relevance for humans, livestock, or for wildlife conservation, given the declining state of many wildlife populations.



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