Recombination Drives Genetic Diversification of Streptococcus dysgalactiae Subspecies equisimilis in a Region of Streptococcal Endemicity
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Infection of the skin or throat by Streptococcus dysgalactiae subspecies equisimilis (SDSE) may result in a number of human diseases. To understand mechanisms that give rise to new genetic variants in this species, we used multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) to characterise relationships in the SDSE population from India, a country where streptococcal disease is endemic. The study revealed Indian SDSE isolates have sequence types (STs) predominantly different to those reported from other regions of the world. Emm-ST combinations in India are also largely unique. Split decomposition analysis, the presence of emm-types in unrelated clonal complexes, and analysis of phylogenetic trees based on concatenated sequences all reveal an extensive history of recombination within the population. The ratio of recombination to mutation (r/m) events (11:1) and per site r/m ratio (41:1) in this population is twice as high as reported for SDSE from non-endemic regions. Recombination involving the emm-gene is also more frequent than recombination involving housekeeping genes, consistent with diversification of M proteins offering selective advantages to the pathogen. Our data demonstrate that genetic recombination in endemic regions is more frequent than non-endemic regions, and gives rise to novel local SDSE variants, some of which may have increased fitness or pathogenic potential.
Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics