Genomic analysis of the host-specific pathogenesis of Staphylocoecus aureus

Project Details


Evolutionary genomic analysis of the origin of livestock strains of S. aureus and the molecular basis of S. aureus pathogenesis. Population genetics and multilocus sequence typing in combination with whole genome sequencing and comparative genome hybridisations were employed in order to investigate the evolutionary origin of S. aureus in livestock and the gene complement required to cause disease. Broad new insights were obtained into into the evolution of S. aureus, the role of human actvities in pathogen emergence and the molecular basis of pathogenesis.

Layman's description

The study determined the entire genetic code for several strains of S. aureus causing disease in livestock and carried out evolutionary analysis leading to an understanding that livestock strains evolved from humans. Important insights into how S. aureus causes disease resulted from the project and may ultimately lead to vaccine-based approaches for controlling disease.

Key findings

First discovery of transmission of Staphylococcus aureus between host species leading to endemic diseases of livestock. In particular, the major poultry clone of S. aureus was demonstrated to originate in humans and spread via the globalized poultry industry. These findings highlighted for the first time the key role of human activities in the emergence of new animal infectious diseases.
Identification of host-specific determinants of virulence including a novel virulence protein with ruminant-specific activity implying a key role in host adaptation.
The first whole genome sequences for poultry and small ruminant strains of S. aureus representing an important resource for the community.
The genome sequences are currently being used for the identification of potential therapeutic targets.
Effective start/end date1/01/0631/01/09


  • BBSRC: £232,793.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.