Repository logo

Building a genomic framework for prospective MRSA surveillance in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Change log


Reuter, Sandra 
Török, M Estée 
Holden, Matthew TG 
Reynolds, Rosy 
Raven, Kathy E 


The correct interpretation of microbial sequencing data applied to surveillance and outbreak investigation depends on accessible genomic databases to provide vital genetic context. Our aim was to construct and describe a United Kingdom MRSA database containing over 1000 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) genomes drawn from England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland over a decade. We sequenced 1013 MRSA submitted to the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy by 46 laboratories between 2001 and 2010. Each isolate was assigned to a regional healthcare referral network in England and was otherwise grouped based on country of origin. Phylogenetic reconstructions were used to contextualize MRSA outbreak investigations and to detect the spread of resistance. The majority of isolates (n = 783, 77%) belonged to CC22, which contains the dominant United Kingdom epidemic clone (EMRSA-15). There was marked geographic structuring of EMRSA-15, consistent with widespread dissemination prior to the sampling decade followed by local diversification. The addition of MRSA genomes from two outbreaks and one pseudo-outbreak demonstrated the certainty with which outbreaks could be confirmed or refuted. We identified local and regional differences in antibiotic resistance profiles, with examples of local expansion, as well as widespread circulation of mobile genetic elements across the bacterial population. We have generated a resource for the future surveillance and outbreak investigation of MRSA in the United Kingdom and Ireland and have shown the value of this during outbreak investigation and tracking of antimicrobial resistance.



Disease Outbreaks, Epidemiological Monitoring, Genome, Bacterial, Humans, Ireland, Methicillin Resistance, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Molecular Diagnostic Techniques, Phylogeny, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Staphylococcal Infections, United Kingdom

Journal Title

Genome Res

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Medical Research Council (G1000803)
Academy of Medical Sciences (unknown)
Medical Research Council (MR/N029399/1)
Medical Research Council (G1000803/1)
We are grateful for assistance from the library construction, sequencing and core informatics teams at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. We acknowledge David Harris and Martin Aslett for their help in submitting the sequenced isolates to public databases. The study was supported by grants from the UKCRC Translational Infection Research Initiative, and the Medical Research Council (Grant Number G1000803) with contributions to the Grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research on behalf of the Department of Health, and the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorate (to Prof. Peacock); by Wellcome Trust grant number 098051 awarded to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; and by a Healthcare Infection Society Major Reasearch Grant. MET is a Clinician Scientist Fellow, supported by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Health Foundation and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. BGS was supported by Wellcome Trust grant number 089472. The study was approved by the University of Cambridge Human Biology Research Ethics Committee (reference HBREC.2013.05), and by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Research and Development Department (reference A092869). Isolates were supplied by the BSAC Resistance Surveillance Project.