Coagulase-negative staphylococcal species constitute an important part of the human skin microbiota. In particular, facultative anaerobic species such as Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus capitis can be found on the skin of virtually every human being. Here, we applied a culture-independent amplicon sequencing approach to identify staphylococcal species on the skin of healthy human individuals. While S. epidermidis and S. capitis were found as primary residents of back skin, surprisingly, the third most abundant member was Staphylococcus saccharolyticus, a relatively unstudied species. A search of skin metagenomic datasets detected sequences identical to the genome of S. saccharolyticus in diverse skin sites, including the back, forehead, and elbow pit. Although described as a slow-growing anaerobic species, a re-evaluation of its growth behavior showed that S. saccharolyticus can grow under oxic conditions, and, in particular, in a CO2-rich atmosphere. We argue here that S. saccharolyticus was largely overlooked in previous culture-dependent and -independent studies, due to its requirement for fastidious growth conditions and the lack of reference genome sequences, respectively. Future studies are needed to unravel the microbiology and host-interacting properties of S. saccharolyticus and its role as a prevalent skin colonizer.
Keywords: Staphylococcus saccharolyticus; amplicon next generation sequencing; coagulase-negative staphylococci; skin microbiome; skin microbiota.