Genome-based characterization of hospital-adapted Enterococcus faecalis lineages.

19 Mar 2019

Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VREfs) is an important nosocomial pathogen(1,2). We undertook whole genome sequencing of E. faecalis associated with bloodstream infection in the UK and Ireland over more than a decade to determine the population structure and genetic associations with hospital adaptation. Three lineages predominated in the population, two of which (L1 and L2) were nationally distributed, and one (L3) geographically restricted. Genome comparison with a global collection identified that L1 and L3 were also present in the USA, but were genetically distinct. Over 90% of VREfs belonged to L1-L3, with resistance acquired and lost multiple times in L1 and L2, but only once followed by clonal expansion in L3. Putative virulence and antibiotic resistance genes were over-represented in L1, L2 and L3 isolates combined, versus the remainder. Each of the three main lineages contained a mixture of vancomycin-resistant and -susceptible E. faecalis (VSEfs), which has important implications for infection control and antibiotic stewardship.