, also known as group B Streptococcus (GBS), is a pathogen of humans and cattle, in which it is responsible for carriage or invasive disease and subclinical mastitis, respectively. From the 1950s to 1970s, thanks to successful mastitis control programs, the prevalence of GBS fell in the Swedish cattle population, but it re-emerged in the late 1990s. GBS was thought to consist of host-specific subpopulations but recent studies have shown that human and cattle subpopulations overlap, with different accessory genome elements providing survival advantages in each host species. We hypothesized that cattle-adapted GBS was eradicated and replaced by new GBS strains of human origin.

Our aim was to explore the differences in GBS cattle population over six decades (pre-post non-detection), with a focus on the possible role of MGE in the evolution of these strains. Historical (n = 44, 1953 to 1978) and contemporary (n = 76, 1997 to 2012) GBS isolates from bovine milk samples were sequenced and analysed for WGS-MLST. Phylogenetic network analysis revealed the presence of six major clades: two of these were detected only up to 1970, two were only detected after 2004, and two were detected in both periods. Historical isolates were all tetracycline sensitive, whereas 51% of recent isolates harboured tet(M), which is considered a marker of human adaptation. Our data support the elimination of a bovine specific clade (CC61/67) and the emergence of new clades (CC1, CC103/314) that are likely of human of origin.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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