Increasing macrolide resistance among Streptococcus agalactiae causing invasive disease in non-pregnant adults was driven by a single capsular-transformed lineage, Portugal, 2009 to 2015

Euro Surveill. 2018 May;23(21):1700473. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.21.1700473.


We characterised Lancefield group B streptococcal (GBS) isolates causing invasive disease among non-pregnant adults in Portugal between 2009 and 2015. All isolates (n = 555) were serotyped, assigned to clonal complexes (CCs) by multilocus sequence typing and characterised by surface protein and pilus island gene profiling. Antimicrobial susceptibility was tested by disk diffusion and resistance genotypes identified by PCR. Overall, serotype Ia was most frequent in the population (31%), followed by serotypes Ib (24%) and V (18%). Serotype Ib increased significantly throughout the study period (p < 0.001) to become the most frequent serotype after 2013. More than 40% of isolates clustered in the CC1/alp3/PI-1+PI-2a genetic lineage, including most isolates of serotypes Ib (n = 110) and V (n = 65). Erythromycin and clindamycin resistance rates were 35% and 34%, respectively, both increasing from 2009 to 2015 (p < 0.010) and associated with CC1 and serotype Ib (p < 0.001). The Ib/CC1 lineage probably resulted from acquisition of the type Ib capsular operon in a single recombination event by a representative of the V/CC1 macrolide-resistant lineage. Expansion of the new serotype Ib/CC1 lineage resulted in increased macrolide resistance in GBS, causing invasive disease among adults in Portugal. The presence of this clone elsewhere may predict more widespread increase in resistance.

Keywords: Streptococcus agalactiae; antimicrobial resistance; bacterial infections; epidemiology; invasive streptococcal infections; molecular methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Capsules / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Macrolides / pharmacology*
  • Macrolides / therapeutic use
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing
  • Portugal
  • Serotyping
  • Streptococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / genetics*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Macrolides