6 of the 8 plasmids >45Kb in length carry the tra genes. Collectively, this data suggests ABT-263 datasheet that conjugative plasmids and plasmid conjugation are infrequent, and that bacteriophage transduction is likely to be the most frequent transfer mechanism of plasmids, particularly non-conjugative plasmids. Conclusion Plasmids are a principal driver of the spread of virulence and resistance genes in S. aureus populations via HGT, which is blocked
by lineage specific R-M systems. This study has demonstrated that resistance and virulence genes are associated with plasmid groups, and that plasmids are associated with S. aureus lineage. This is evidence that genetic pressures and RM barriers are limiting the evolution of more resistant and more virulent S. aureus strains. Methods Plasmid sequences A total
of 243 sequenced S. aureus plasmids obtained from GenBank were included in analysis. 47 of these sequences are isolated from contigs of whole genome sequencing projects. GenBank accession numbers for all plasmid sequences are shown in Additional file 1. The lineage origin of plasmids is unknown for the majority of these plasmids, and therefore distributions of sequenced plasmid amongst lineages could not be investigated. rep gene assignment rep genes were identified by the presence of previously characterised protein replication domains (rep_1, rep_2, rep_3, repA_N, repL and rep_trans) Loperamide using selleck compound the protein-protein BLAST search (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/blast) . Because rep genes can appear in truncated forms, those that encode proteins of less than 90 amino acids in length were not included in analysis. A rep family was assigned if two distinct rep gene sequences from two different plasmids shared at least 80 % amino acid identity across the whole gene, as previously performed by Jensen et al.. All rep families were named rep X with the X indicating the designated
number of the family, and match those previously described by Jensen et al. 2009. rep genes that were identified in only one S. aureus plasmids were termed rep orphans. Assignment of plasmid groups A plasmid group was assigned to each unique combination of rep genes found in a single sequenced plasmid. All plasmid groups were named pGSA X (for plasmid group of Staphylococcus aureus) with the X indicating the designated number of the family. All members of the same plasmid group share the same rep gene or genes. Plasmid groups exist that possess a single rep gene. Other plasmid groups possess more than one rep gene. Distribution of resistance, virulence and transfer genes in S.