The Indigenous population of the Northern Territory of Australia (NT) suffers from a very high burden of Streptococcus pyogenes disease, including cardiac and renal sequelae. The aim of this study was to determine if S. pyogenes isolated from this population represent NT endemic strains, or conversely reflect strains with global distribution. emm sequence typing data were used to select 460 S. pyogenes isolates representing NT S. pyogenes diversity from 1987-2008. These isolates were genotyped using either multilocus sequence typing (MLST) or a high resolution melting-based MLST surrogate (Minim typing). These data were combined with MLST data from other studies on NT S. pyogenes to yield a set of 731 MLST or Minim typed isolates for analysis. goeBURST analysis of MLST allelic profiles and neighbour-joining trees of the MLST allele sequences revealed that a large proportion of the known global S. pyogenes MLST-defined diversity has now been found in the NT. Specifically, fully sequence typed NT isolates encompass 19% of known S. pyogenes STs and 43% of known S. pyogenes MLST alleles. These analyses provided no evidence for major NT-endemic strains, with many STs and MLST alleles shared between the NT and the rest of the world. The relationship between the number of known Minim types, and the probability that a Minim type identified in a calendar year would be novel was determined. This revealed that Minim types typically persist in the NT for >1 year, and indicate that the majority of NT Minim types have been identified. This study revealed that many diverse S. pyogenes strains exhibit global scale mobility that extends to isolated populations. The burden of S. pyogenes disease in the NT is unlikely to be due to the nature of NT S. pyogenes strains, but is rather a function of social and living conditions.
Towers, R., Carapetis, J., Currie, B., Davies, M., Walker, M., Dougan, G., & Giffard, P. (2013). Extensive Diversity of Streptococcus pyogenes in a Remote Human Population Reflects Global-Scale Transmission Rather than Localised Diversification. PLoS One, 8(9), 1-6. [e73851]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0073851