Evolution and virulence of serogroup 6 pneumococci on a global scale

Academic Article


  • To study the evolution and virulence of pneumococcal populations, we used multilocus sequence typing to identify the major clones among 212 carriage and invasive isolates expressing capsular serogroup 6 from 39 countries. The global population consisted of 8 major complexes and 6 minor complexes of related clones and 32 clones of diverse origin. Surprisingly, serotype 6A clones evolved by mutation nearly as often as by recombination, whereas serotype 6B clones evolved almost exclusively by recombination (P = 0.0029). This is the first report of population genetic differences among serotypes of this species. The largest clonal complex was associated with invasive disease (P = 0.019) and included a common ancestor for five previously identified drug-resistant clones. The putative ancestors of the major clonal complexes were represented by a greater proportion of carriage isolates than were their descendents (P = 0.001), and the ancestors tended to be less virulent than their descendents in a mouse model of infection. These data suggested that virulent serogroup 6 clones have evolved multiple times from less-virulent ancestral clones.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Robinson DA; Briles DE; Crain MJ; Hollingshead SK
  • Start Page

  • 6367
  • End Page

  • 6375
  • Volume

  • 184
  • Issue

  • 22