Research Topic

Mobile genetic elements in streptococci

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The genus Streptococcus comprises of numerous clinically significant species that are responsible for a wide variety of infections in humans and in animals. Beside major human streptococcal pathogens S. pyogenes, S. pneumoniae and S. agalactiae, several other streptococcal species are involved in human ...

The genus Streptococcus comprises of numerous clinically significant species that are responsible for a wide variety of infections in humans and in animals. Beside major human streptococcal pathogens S. pyogenes, S. pneumoniae and S. agalactiae, several other streptococcal species are involved in human diseases. The streptococcal population inhabiting the human oral cavity include pathogens involved in dental caries and also a variety of opportunistic pathogens. In addition, animal streptococci are receiving growing attention for their involvement in severe and increasingly reported human infections.
Over the last two decades, the development of antimicrobial resistance has become a significant global public health concern. The antibiotic selective pressure and the location of resistance genes on mobile genetic elements both contributed to the emergence and dissemination of antibiotic resistance. The role played by the animal microbiota has recently aroused great interest. Animal microrganisms, because they undergo antibiotic selective pressure under various conditions (e.g. veterinary practice, cattle farming), may easily develop resistance mechanisms transferable to human pathogens, thus representing a possible resistance reservoir.
The evolution of resistance marches on in streptococci. Resistance genes are located on plasmids, integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs), transposons, and phages. The analysis of sequenced genomes has provided significant insights into the streptococcal genome. From these studies it emerged that almost all sequenced genomes contain mobile genetic elements carrying genes not only for resistance to antibiotics but also to heavy metals and antiseptics, and for bacteriocins. However, except for S. pyogenes and S. pneumoniae, our current knowledge is still fairly sketchy.
This Research Topic will focus on mobile resistance genetic elements in streptococci of human and animal origin. The aim of this Research Topic is to provide an overview of the latest research on molecular characterization, horizontal gene transfer and molecular epidemiology of these elements in streptococci. Research papers, reviews, perspectives, and opinion papers on these themes are welcome.


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