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Capturing the cloud of diversity reveals complexity and heterogeneity of MRSA carriage, infection and transmission.

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Paterson, Gavin K 
Murray, Gemma GR 
Welch, John J 
Warland, James H 


Genome sequencing is revolutionizing clinical microbiology and our understanding of infectious diseases. Previous studies have largely relied on the sequencing of a single isolate from each individual. However, it is not clear what degree of bacterial diversity exists within, and is transmitted between individuals. Understanding this 'cloud of diversity' is key to accurate identification of transmission pathways. Here, we report the deep sequencing of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among staff and animal patients involved in a transmission network at a veterinary hospital. We demonstrate considerable within-host diversity and that within-host diversity may rise and fall over time. Isolates from invasive disease contained multiple mutations in the same genes, including inactivation of a global regulator of virulence and changes in phage copy number. This study highlights the need for sequencing of multiple isolates from individuals to gain an accurate picture of transmission networks and to further understand the basis of pathogenesis.



Animals, Carrier State, DNA, Bacterial, Dogs, Genetic Variation, Hospitals, Animal, Humans, Infectious Disease Transmission, Professional-to-Patient, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Phylogeny, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Staphylococcal Infections, Virulence Factors, Zoonoses

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Nat Commun

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Medical Research Council (G1001787)
Medical Research Council (MR/N002660/1)
Medical Research Council (G1001787/1)
Thanks to Dr Alex O’Neill, University of Leeds and Dr Matthew Ellington, Public Health England for provision of RN4220 and RN4200mutS. We thank the core sequencing and informatics team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute for sequencing of the isolates described in this study. This work was supported by a Medical Research Council Partnership grant (G1001787/1) held between the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge (M.A.H.), the School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge (S.J.P.), the Moredun Research Institute, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (J.P. and S.J.P). S.J.P. receives support from the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. M.T.G.H., S.R.H. and J.P. were funded by Wellcome Trust grant no. 098051. G.G.R.M. was funded by an MRC studentship.