Transmission of Staphylococcus aureus from humans to green monkeys in the Gambia as revealed by whole-genome sequencing

Madikay Senghore, Sion Bayliss, Brenda Kwambana-Adams, Ebenezer Foster-Nyarko, Jainaba Menneh, Michel Dione, Henry Badji, Chinelo Ebruke, Emma Doughty, Harry Arthur Frank Wright Thorpe, Anna Jasinska, Christopher Schmitt, Jennifer Cramer, Trudy Turner, George Weinstock, Nelson Freimer, Mark Pallen, Edward Feil, Martin Antonio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (SciVal)


Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen of humans and animals. We genome sequenced 90 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 time scales. 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 the loss of phagecarrying genes that are known to play an important role in human colonization. We also report recent anthroponotic transmission of the well-characterized human lineages sequence type 6 (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 interspecies exchanges of potential pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5910-5917
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number19
Early online date29 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Staphylococcus aureus, Homo sapiens, anthroponosis, The Gambia, African green monkeys, Chlorocebus sabaeus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology


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