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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016 Apr;14(4):235-50. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2016.10. Epub 2016 Feb 29.

The genomic signatures of Shigella evolution, adaptation and geographical spread.

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The Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, 764 Vo Van Kiet, Quan 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Centre for Systems Genomics, University of Melbourne.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia.
Bacterial Genomics, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA, UK.
Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7FZ, UK.
Department of Pathogen and Molecular Biology, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel St, London WC1E 7HT, UK.


Shigella spp. are some of the key pathogens responsible for the global burden of diarrhoeal disease. These facultative intracellular bacteria belong to the family Enterobacteriaceae, together with other intestinal pathogens, such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. The genus Shigella comprises four different species, each consisting of several serogroups, all of which show phenotypic similarity, including invasive pathogenicity. DNA sequencing suggests that this similarity results from the convergent evolution of different Shigella spp. founders. Here, we review the evolutionary relationships between Shigella spp. and E . coli, and we highlight how the genomic plasticity of these bacteria and their acquisition of a distinctive virulence plasmid have enabled the development of such highly specialized pathogens. Furthermore, we discuss the insights that genotyping and whole-genome sequencing have provided into the phylogenetics and intercontinental spread of Shigella spp.

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