Source: US National Library of Medicine
Non-aureus staphylococci (NAS), a heterogeneous group of a large number of species and subspecies, are the most frequently isolated pathogens from intramammary infections in dairy cattle. Phylogenetic relationships among bovine NAS species are controversial and have mostly been determined based on single-gene trees. Herein, we analyzed phylogeny of bovine NAS species using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of 441 distinct isolates. In addition, evolutionary relationships among bovine NAS were estimated from multilocus data of 16S rRNA, hsp60, rpoB, sodA, and tuf genes and sequences from these and numerous other single genes/proteins. All phylogenies were created with FastTree, Maximum-Likelihood, Maximum-Parsimony, and Neighbor-Joining methods. Regardless of methodology, WGS-trees clearly separated bovine NAS species into five monophyletic coherent clades. Furthermore, there were consistent interspecies relationships within clades in all WGS phylogenetic reconstructions. Except for the Maximum-Parsimony tree, multilocus data analysis similarly produced five clades. There were large variations in determining clades and interspecies relationships in single gene/protein trees, under different methods of tree constructions, highlighting limitations of using single genes for determining bovine NAS phylogeny. However, based on WGS data, we established a robust phylogeny of bovine NAS species, unaffected by method or model of evolutionary reconstructions. Therefore, it is now possible to determine associations between phylogeny and many biological traits, such as virulence, antimicrobial resistance, environmental niche, geographical distribution, and host specificity.