Genomic epidemiology of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 16F lineages

Microb Genom. 2023 Nov;9(11):001123. doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.001123.


Due to the emergence of non-vaccine serotypes in vaccinated populations, Streptococcus pneumoniae remains a major global health challenge despite advances in vaccine development. Serotype 16F is among the predominant non-vaccine serotypes identified among vaccinated infants in South Africa (SA). To characterize lineages and antimicrobial resistance in 16F isolates obtained from South Africa and place the local findings in a global context, we analysed 10 923 S. pneumoniae carriage isolates obtained from infants recruited as part of a broader SA birth cohort. We inferred serotype, resistance profile for penicillin, chloramphenicol, cotrimoxazole, erythromycin and tetracycline, and global pneumococcal sequence clusters (GPSCs) from genomic data. To ensure global representation, we also included S. pneumoniae carriage and disease isolates from the Global Pneumococcal Sequencing (GPS) project database (n=19 607, collected from 49 countries across 5 continents, 1995-2018, accessed 17 March 2022). Nine per cent (934/10923) of isolates obtained from infants in the Drakenstein community in SA and 2 %(419/19607) of genomes in the GPS dataset were serotype 16F. Serotype 16F isolates were from 28 different lineages of S. pneumoniae, with GPSC33 and GPSC46 having the highest proportion of serotype 16F isolates at 26 % (346/1353) and 53 % (716/1353), respectively. Serotype 16F isolates were identified globally, but most isolates were collected from Africa. GPSC33 was associated with carriage [OR (95 % CI) 0.24 (0.09-0.66); P=0.003], while GPSC46 was associated with disease [OR (95 % CI) 19.9 (2.56-906.50); P=0.0004]. Ten per cent (37/346) and 15 % (53/346) of isolates within GPSC33 had genes associated with resistance to penicillin and co-trimoxazole, respectively, and 18 % (128/716) of isolates within GPSC46 had genes associated with resistance to co-trimoxazole. Resistant isolates formed genetic clusters, which may suggest emerging resistant lineages. Serotype 16F lineages were common in southern Africa. Some of these lineages were associated with disease and resistance to penicillin and cotrimoxazole. We recommend continuous genomic surveillance to determine the long-term impact of serotype 16F lineages on vaccine efficacy and antimicrobial therapy globally. Investing in vaccine strategies that offer protection over a wide range of serotypes/lineages remains essential. This paper contains data hosted by Microreact.

Keywords: antimicrobial resistance; lineages; pneumococci; serotype; virulence.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Penicillins
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Serogroup
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae* / genetics
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination*


  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Penicillins
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines