Shigella sonnei genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis indicate recent global dissemination from Europe

K. Holt, Stephen Baker, François-Xavier Weill, Edward C. Holmes, Andrew Kitchen, Jun Yu, Vartul Sangal, Derek J. Brown, John E. Coia, Dong Wook Kim, Seon Young Choi, Su Hee Kim, Wanderley D. da Silveira, Derek J. Pickard, Jeremy J. Farrar, Julian Parkhill, Gordon Dougan, Nicholas R. Thomson

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174 Citations (Scopus)
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Shigella are human-adapted Escherichia coli that have gained the ability to invade the human gut mucosa and cause dysentery1,2, spreading efficiently via low-dose fecal-oral transmission3,4. Historically, S. sonnei has been predominantly responsible for dysentery in developed countries, but is now emerging as a problem in the developing world, apparently replacing the more diverse S. flexneri in areas undergoing economic development and improvements in water quality4-6. Classical approaches have shown S. sonnei is genetically conserved and clonal7. We report here whole-genome sequencing of 132 globally-distributed isolates. Our phylogenetic analysis shows that the current S. sonnei population descends from a common ancestor that existed less than 500 years ago and has diversified into several distinct lineages with unique characteristics. Our analysis suggests the majority of this diversification occurred in Europe, followed by more recent establishment of local pathogen populations in other continents predominantly due to the pandemic spread of a single, rapidly-evolving, multidrug resistant lineage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1056–1059
Number of pages4
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number9
Early online date5 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • shigella sonnei genome sequencing
  • phylogenetic analysis
  • global dissemination
  • europe


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