Editor: Fernando Baquero
Population biology of Gram-positive pathogens: high-risk clones for dissemination of antibiotic resistance
Version of Record online: 4 JUL 2011
© 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved
FEMS Microbiology Reviews
Special Issue: Antibiotic Resistance
Volume 35, Issue 5, pages 872–900, September 2011
How to Cite
Willems, R. J.L., Hanage, W. P., Bessen, D. E. and Feil, E. J. (2011), Population biology of Gram-positive pathogens: high-risk clones for dissemination of antibiotic resistance. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 35: 872–900. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2011.00284.x
- Issue online: 1 AUG 2011
- Version of Record online: 4 JUL 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 9 JUN 2011 08:23AM EST
- Received 31 August 2010; revised 12 April 2011; accepted 4 May 2011., Final version published online 4 July 2011.
- molecular epidemiology
Infections caused by multiresistant Gram-positive bacteria represent a major health burden in the community as well as in hospitalized patients. Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium are well-known pathogens of hospitalized patients, frequently linked with resistance against multiple antibiotics, compromising effective therapy. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes are important pathogens in the community and S. aureus has recently emerged as an important community-acquired pathogen. Population genetic studies reveal that recombination prevails as a driving force of genetic diversity in E. faecium, E. faecalis, S. pneumoniae and S. pyogenes, and thus, these species are weakly clonal. Although recombination has a relatively modest role driving the genetic variation of the core genome of S. aureus, the horizontal acquisition of resistance and virulence genes plays a key role in the emergence of new clinically relevant clones in this species. In this review, we discuss the population genetics of E. faecium, E. faecalis, S. pneumoniae, S. pyogenes and S. aureus. Knowledge of the population structure of these pathogens is not only highly relevant for (molecular) epidemiological research but also for identifying the genetic variation that underlies changes in clinical behaviour, to improve our understanding of the pathogenic behaviour of particular clones and to identify novel targets for vaccines or immunotherapy.