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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53925. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053925. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Population biology of Streptococcus pneumoniae in West Africa: multilocus sequence typing of serotypes that exhibit different predisposition to invasive disease and carriage.

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Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.



Little is known about the population biology of Streptococcus pneumoniae in developing countries, although the majority of pneumococcal infections occur in this setting. The aim of the study was to apply MLST to investigate the population biology of S. pneumoniae in West Africa.


Seventy three invasive and carriage S. pneumoniae isolates from three West African countries including The Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana were investigated. The isolates covered seven serotypes (1, 3, 5, 6A, 11, 14, 23F) and were subjected to multilocus sequence typing and antibiotic susceptibility testing.


Overall, 50 different sequence types (STs) were identified, of which 38% (29) were novel. The most common ST was a novel clone-ST 4012 (6.5%), and some clones including STs 913, 925, 1737, 2160 and 3310 appeared to be specific to the study region. Two STs including ST 63 and ST 4012 were associated with multiple serotypes indicating a history of serotype switching. ST 63 was associated with serotypes 3 and 23F, while ST 4012 was associated with serotypes 6A and 23. eBURST analyses using the stringent 6/7 identical loci definition grouped the 50 STs into 5 clonal complexes and 65 singletons, expressing a high level of genetic diversity among the isolates. Compared to the other serotypes, serotypes 1 and 5 isolates appeared to be more clonal. Internationally recognized antibiotic resistant clones of S. pneumoniae were generally absent in the population investigated and the only multidrug resistant isolate identified (1/66) belong to the Pneumocococcal Epidemiology Network clone ST 63.


The pneumococcal population in West Africa is quite divergent, and serotypes that are common in invasive disease (such as serotypes 1 and 5) are more likely to be clonal than serotypes that are common in carriage.

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