Whole-genome sequencing reveals transmission of Staphylococcus aureus from humans to green monkeys in The Gambia
OPEN Applied and environmental microbiology | 31 Jul 2016
M Senghore, SC Bayliss, BA Kwambana-Adams, E Foster-Nyarko, J Manneh, M Dione, H Badji, C Ebruke, EL Doughty, HA Thorpe, AJ Jasinska, CA Schmitt, JD Cramer, TR Turner, G Weinstock, NB Freimer, MJ Pallen, EJ Feil and M Antonio
Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen of humans and animals. We genome-sequenced ninety S. aureus isolates from the Gambia: 46 isolates from invasive disease in humans, 13 human carriage isolates and 31 monkey carriage isolates. We inferred multiple anthroponotic transmissions of S. aureus from humans to green monkeys, Chlorocebus sabaeus in The Gambia over different timescales. We report a novel monkey-associated clade of S. aureus that emerged from a human-to-monkey switch estimated to have occurred 2,700 years ago. Adaptation of this lineage to the monkey host is accompanied by loss of phage-encoded genes that are known to play an important role in human colonisation. We also report recent anthroponotic transmission of the well-characterised human lineages, ST6 and ST15, to monkeys, probably because of steadily increasing encroachment of humans into the monkeys' habitat. Although we have found no evidence of transmission of S. aureus from monkeys to humans, as the two species come into ever-closer contact there might be an increased risk of additional inter-species exchanges of potential pathogens.
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