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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 10;11(3):e0151458. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151458. eCollection 2016.

Genomic Analysis of Companion Rabbit Staphylococcus aureus.

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Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, University of Hull, Kingston upon Hull, United Kingdom.
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom.
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust, Genome Campus, Hinxton, United Kingdom.
Scottish Agricultural College Consulting Veterinary Services, Inverness, United Kingdom.


In addition to being an important human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus is able to cause a variety of infections in numerous other host species. While the S. aureus strains causing infection in several of these hosts have been well characterised, this is not the case for companion rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), where little data are available on S. aureus strains from this host. To address this deficiency we have performed antimicrobial susceptibility testing and genome sequencing on a collection of S. aureus isolates from companion rabbits. The findings show a diverse S. aureus population is able to cause infection in this host, and while antimicrobial resistance was uncommon, the isolates possess a range of known and putative virulence factors consistent with a diverse clinical presentation in companion rabbits including severe abscesses. We additionally show that companion rabbit isolates carry polymorphisms within dltB as described as underlying host-adaption of S. aureus to farmed rabbits. The availability of S. aureus genome sequences from companion rabbits provides an important aid to understanding the pathogenesis of disease in this host and in the clinical management and surveillance of these infections.

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