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Streptococcus pneumoniae is a pathogen of global importance that frequently transfers genetic material between strains and on occasion across species boundaries. In an analysis of 1930 pneumococcal genotypes from six housekeeping genes and 94 genotypes from related species, we identified mosaic genotypes representing admixture between populations and found that these were significantly associated with resistance to several classes of antibiotics. We hypothesize that these observations result from a history of hyper-recombination, which means that these strains are more likely to acquire both divergent genetic material and resistance determinants. This could have consequences for the reemergence of drug resistance after pneumococcal vaccination and also for our understanding of diversification and speciation in recombinogenic bacteria.

Original publication

DOI

10.1126/science.1171908

Type

Journal article

Journal

Science (New York, N.Y.)

Publication Date

06/2009

Volume

324

Pages

1454 - 1457

Addresses

Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK. w.hanage@imperial.ac.uk

Keywords

Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pneumococcal Vaccines, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Bacterial Typing Techniques, Bayes Theorem, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Drug Resistance, Bacterial, Recombination, Genetic, Genotype, Alleles, Genes, Bacterial, Genetic Variation, Heptavalent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine