Disease-associated genotypes of the commensal skin bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis

The groups latest paper investigating the genetic elements associated with clinical disease in Staphylococcus epidermidis was published online today in Nature Communications. [Abstract below]

Bath University press release: The potentially deadly bacterium that’s on everyone’s skin

Some of the most common infectious diseases are caused by bacteria that naturally colonise humans asymptomatically. Combating these opportunistic pathogens requires an understanding of the traits that differentiate infecting strains from harmless relatives. Staphylococcus epidermidis is carried asymptomatically on the skin and mucous membranes of virtually all humans but is a major cause of nosocomial infection associated with invasive procedures. Here we address the underlying evolutionary mechanisms of opportunistic pathogenicity by combining pangenome-wide association studies and laboratory microbiology to compare S. epidermidis from bloodstream and wound infections and asymptomatic carriage. We identify 61 genes containing infection-associated genetic elements (k-mers) that correlate with in vitro variation in known pathogenicity traits (biofilm formation, cell toxicity, interleukin-8 production, methicillin resistance). Horizontal gene transfer spreads these elements, allowing divergent clones to cause infection. Finally, Random Forest model prediction of disease status (carriage vs. infection) identifies pathogenicity elements in 415 S. epidermidis isolates with 80% accuracy, demonstrating the potential for identifying risk genotypes pre-operatively.

It has received some media attention from:
The Daily Mail: Bacteria that lives on EVERYONE’S skin is becoming resistant to antibiotics
The Mirror: Potentially DEADLY bacteria related to MRSA is on your skin right now
The Metro: Deadly bacteria is being ignored and should be taken more seriously
Earth.com: This common bacterium is becoming increasingly antibiotic-resistant
EurekAlerts: The potentially deadly bacterium that’s on everyone’s skin
Lots of local media including [here][here] and [here].
And there is a video of Sam discussing the work here

International media
Quo [Spanish]; ABC diseases [Spanish]; Investigacion y ciencia [Spanish]; Guru meditation [French]; Origo [Hungarian]; Scinexx [German]; Jurnalul [Russian]; GulfNews [English]; Zougla [Greek]; the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence [English]; and BBC News in [Thai]…

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