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Range expansion and the origin of USA300 North American epidemic Methicillin-Resistant staphylococcus aureus

Challagundla, L., Luo, X., Tickler, I.A., Didelot, X., Coleman, D.C., Shore, A.C., Coombs, G.W., Sordelli, D.O., Brown, E.L., Skov, R., Larsen, A.R., Reyes, J., Robledo, I.E., Vazquez, G.J., Rivera, R., Fey, P.D., Stevenson, K., Wang, S-H, Kreiswirth, B.N., Mediavilla, J.R., Arias, C.A., Planet, P.J., Nolan, R.L., Tenover, F.C., Goering, R.V., Robinson, D.A. and Barbour, A.G. (2018) Range expansion and the origin of USA300 North American epidemic Methicillin-Resistant staphylococcus aureus. mBio, 9 (1).

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The USA300 North American epidemic (USA300-NAE) clone of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has caused a wave of severe skin and soft tissue infections in the United States since it emerged in the early 2000s, but its geographic origin is obscure. Here we use the population genomic signatures expected from the serial founder effects of a geographic range expansion to infer the origin of USA300-NAE and identify polymorphisms associated with its spread. Genome sequences from 357 isolates from 22 U.S. states and territories and seven other countries are compared. We observe two significant signatures of range expansion, including decreases in genetic diversity and increases in derived allele frequency with geographic distance from the Pennsylvania region. These signatures account for approximately half of the core nucleotide variation of this clone, occur genome wide, and are robust to heterogeneity in temporal sampling of isolates, human population density, and recombination detection methods. The potential for positive selection of a gyrA fluoroquinolone resistance allele and several intergenic regions, along with a 2.4 times higher recombination rate in a resistant subclade, is noted. These results are the first to show a pattern of genetic variation that is consistent with a range expansion of an epidemic bacterial clone, and they highlight a rarely considered but potentially common mechanism by which genetic drift may profoundly influence bacterial genetic variation.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Copyright: © 2018 Challagundla et al.
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