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Infect Genet Evol. 2015 Jul;33:381-92. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2014.10.001. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Genomics of Streptococcus salivarius, a major human commensal.

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INRA, UMR 1319 Micalis, Domaine de Vilvert, F-78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France; AgroParisTech, UMR MICALIS, Jouy-en-Josas, France.
INRA, UMR 1319 Micalis, Domaine de Vilvert, F-78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France; AgroParisTech, UMR MICALIS, Jouy-en-Josas, France. Electronic address:


The salivarius group of streptococci is of particular importance for humans. This group consists of three genetically similar species, Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus vestibularis and Streptococcus thermophilus. S. salivarius and S. vestibularis are commensal organisms that may occasionally cause opportunistic infections in humans, whereas S. thermophilus is a food bacterium widely used in dairy production. We developed Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and comparative genomic analysis to confirm the clear separation of these three species. These analyses also identified a subgroup of four strains, with a core genome diverging by about 10%, in terms of its nucleotide sequence, from that of S. salivarius sensu stricto. S. thermophilus species displays a low level of nucleotide variability, due to its recent emergence with the development of agriculture. By contrast, nucleotide variability is high in the other two species of the salivarius group, reflecting their long-standing association with humans. The species of the salivarius group have genome sizes ranging from the smallest (∼ 1.7 Mb for S. thermophilus) to the largest (∼ 2.3 Mb for S. salivarius) among streptococci, reflecting genome reduction linked to a narrow, nutritionally rich environment for S. thermophilus, and natural, more competitive niches for the other two species. Analyses of genomic content have indicated that the core genes of S. salivarius account for about two thirds of the genome, indicating considerable variability of gene content and differences in potential adaptive features. Furthermore, we showed that the genome of this species is exceptionally rich in genes encoding surface factors, glycosyltransferases and response regulators. Evidence of widespread genetic exchanges was obtained, probably involving a natural competence system and the presence of diverse mobile elements. However, although the S. salivarius strains studied were isolated from several human body-related sites (all levels of the digestive tract, skin, breast milk, and body fluids) and included clinical strains, no genetic or genomic niche-specific features could be identified to discriminate specific group.


Adaptation; Comparative genomic; Diversity; HGT; MLST; Streptococci

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