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Shigella sonnei genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis indicate recent global dissemination from Europe

Holt, K. and Baker, Stephen and Weill, François-Xavier and Holmes, Edward C. and Kitchen, Andrew and Yu, Jun and Sangal, Vartul and Brown, Derek J. and Coia, John E. and Kim, Dong Wook and Choi, Seon Young and Kim, Su Hee and da Silveira, Wanderley D. and Pickard, Derek J. and Farrar, Jeremy J. and Parkhill, Julian and Dougan, Gordon and Thomson, Nicholas R. (2012) Shigella sonnei genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis indicate recent global dissemination from Europe. Nature Genetics, 44 (9). 1056–1059. ISSN 1061-4036

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Abstract

Shigella are human-adapted Escherichia coli that have gained the ability to invade the human gut mucosa and cause dysentery1,2, spreading efficiently via low-dose fecal-oral transmission3,4. Historically, S. sonnei has been predominantly responsible for dysentery in developed countries, but is now emerging as a problem in the developing world, apparently replacing the more diverse S. flexneri in areas undergoing economic development and improvements in water quality4-6. Classical approaches have shown S. sonnei is genetically conserved and clonal7. We report here whole-genome sequencing of 132 globally-distributed isolates. Our phylogenetic analysis shows that the current S. sonnei population descends from a common ancestor that existed less than 500 years ago and has diversified into several distinct lineages with unique characteristics. Our analysis suggests the majority of this diversification occurred in Europe, followed by more recent establishment of local pathogen populations in other continents predominantly due to the pandemic spread of a single, rapidly-evolving, multidrug resistant lineage.