My colleagues Aimee Murray, Lihong Zhang and Will Gaze and I have an ongoing collaboration with colleagues from the Royal Cornwall Hospital John Lee and Richard Bendall on the detection of ‘Staphylococcus intermedius Group’ (SIG) in human infections. These bugs are associated with wildlife and pets but are also able to infect humans (they are ‘zoonotic’). I wrote a short blog post about this collaboration a while back, and see that I failed to mention the resulting publication in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology: “Improved detection of Staphylococcus intermedius Group in a routine diagnostic laboratory“. In it, we described a simple scheme to differentiate these Staphylococci from the very similar-looking and ubiquitous species Staphylococcus aureus. We isolated a number of Staphylococcus pseudintermedius clones in the 2015 study, but also had a weird outlier in the phylogenetic tree: isolate ‘NW1’. In the new paper, we sequenced the genome of this isolate and found it to be sufficiently distinct from the three known SIG species to deserve its own name. As the isolate came from a patient travelling from the North of England, Staphylococcus starkensis was floated, but the nomenclature editors at IJSEM found that a bit too flamboyant. Luckily we had a great alternative inspired by the Romans: Staphylococcus cornubiensis. Our isolate is phenotypically very similar to the other SIG species but it is genomically quite distinct, with an Average Nucleotide Identity of 90.2% with closest relative S. intermedius. Although pathogenic, NW1 carries no known virulence genes or mobilizable antibiotic resistance genes. We hope to obtain funding to conduct further studies to assess the prevalence of this species in humans as well as its potential presence in companion animals.
Aimee K. Murray, John Lee, Richard Bendall, Lihong Zhang, Marianne Sunde, Jannice Schau Slettemeås, William Gaze, Andrew J. Page, Michiel Vos (2018): Staphylococcus cornubiensis sp. nov., a new member of the Staphylococcus intermedius Group (SIG). International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology,