Staphylococcus aureus is a gram positive bacterium


Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive, round-shaped bacterium that is a member of the Firmicutes, and it is a usual member of the microbiota of the body, frequently found in the upper respiratory tract and on the skin. It is often positive for catalase and nitrate reduction and is a facultative anaerobe that can grow without the need for oxygen. Although S. aureus usually acts as a commensal of the human microbiota it can also become an opportunistic pathogen, being a common cause of skin infections including abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning. Pathogenic strains often promote infections by producing virulence factors such as potent protein toxins, and the expression of a cell-surface protein that binds and inactivates antibodies. An estimated 20% to 30% of the human population are long-term carriers S. aureus which can be found as part of the normal skin flora, in the nostrils, and as a normal inhabitant of the lower reproductive tract of women.

1881, Sir Alexander Ogston, a Scottish surgeon, discovered that Staphylococcus can cause wound infections after noticing groups of bacteria in pus from a surgical abscess during a procedure he was performing. He named it Staphylococcus after its clustered appearance evident under a microscope. Then, in 1884, German scientist Friedrich Julius Rosenbach identified Staphylococcus aureus, discriminating and separating it from Staphylococcus albus, a related bacterium. In the early 1930s, doctors began to use a more streamlined test to detect the presence of an S. aureus infection by the means of coagulase testing, which enables detection of an enzyme produced by the bacterium.

Staphylococcus aureus can be sorted into ten dominant human lineages. There are numerous minor lineages as well, but these are not seen in the population as often. Genomes of bacteria within the same lineage are mostly conserved, with the exception of mobile genetic elements. Mobile genetic elements that are common in S. aureus include bacteriophages, pathogenicity islands, plasmids, transposons, and staphylococcal cassette chromosomes. These elements have enabled S. aureus to continually evolve and gain new traits. There is a great deal of genetic variation within the S. aureus species.

It has been proposed that one possible reason for the great deal of heterogeneity within the species could be due to its reliance on heterogeneous infections. This occurs when multiple different types of S. aureus cause an infection within a host. The different strains can secrete different enzymes or bring different antibiotic resistances to the group, increasing its pathogenic ability. Another notable evolutionary process within the S. aureus species is its co-evolution with its human hosts. Over time, this parasitic relationship has led to the bacterium's ability to be carried in the nasopharynx of humans without causing symptoms or infection. This allows it to be passed throughout the human population, increasing its fitness as a species. However, only approximately 50% of the human population are carriers of S. aureus, with 20% as continuous carriers and 30% as intermittent. This leads scientists to believe that there are many factors that determine whether S. aureus is carried asymptomatically in humans, including factors that are specific to an individual person. In humans, S. aureus is not part of the normal00A0microbiota present in the upper respiratory tract or gut mucosa or on the skin; rather, when it is prevalent here, it is a colonization.

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