Phylogeographical Analysis Reveals the Historic Origin, Emergence, and Evolutionary Dynamics of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus ST228

Mohamed M.H. Abdelbary, Edward J. Feil, Laurence Senn, Christiane Petignat, Guy Prod’hom, Jacques Schrenzel, Patrice François, Guido Werner, Franziska Layer, Birgit Strommenger, Annalisa Pantosti, Monica Monaco, Olivier Denis, Ariane Deplano, Hajo Grundmann, Dominique S. Blanc

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Background: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a common healthcare-associated pathogen that remains a major public health concern. Sequence type 228 (ST228) was first described in Germany and spread to become a successful MRSA clone in several European countries. In 2000, ST228 emerged in Lausanne and has subsequently caused several large outbreaks. Here, we describe the evolutionary history of this clone and identify the genetic changes underlying its expansion in Switzerland. Materials and Methods: We aimed to understand the phylogeographic and demographic dynamics of MRSA ST228/ST111 by sequencing 530 representative isolates of this clone that were collected from 14 European countries between 1997 and 2012. Results: The phylogenetic analysis revealed distinct lineages of ST228 isolates associated with specific geographic origins. In contrast, isolates of ST111, which is a single locus variant of ST228 sharing the same spa type t041, formed a monophyletic cluster associated with multiple countries. The evidence points to a German origin of the sampled population, with the basal German lineage being characterized by spa type t001. The highly successful Swiss ST228 lineage diverged from this progenitor clone through the loss of the aminoglycoside-streptothricin resistance gene cluster and the gain of mupirocin resistance. This lineage was introduced first in Geneva and was subsequently introduced into Lausanne. Conclusion: Our results reveal the radiation of distinct lineages of MRSA ST228 from a German progenitor, as the clone spread into different European countries. In Switzerland, ST228 was introduced first in Geneva and was subsequently introduced into Lausanne.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2063
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020


  • epidemiology
  • genomic epidemiology
  • MRSA
  • phylogeny
  • phylogeography
  • ST228
  • WGS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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