Insights gained from sequencing Australian non-invasive and invasive Streptococcus pyogenes isolates

Microb Genom. 2024 Jan;10(1):001152. doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.001152.


Epidemiological data have indicated that invasive infections caused by the Gram-positive cocci Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus, GAS) have increased in many Australian states over the past two decades. In July 2022, invasive GAS (iGAS) infections became nationally notifiable in Australia via public-health agencies. Surveillance for S. pyogenes infections has been sporadic within the state of New South Wales (NSW). This has led to a lack of genetic data on GAS strains in circulation, particularly for non-invasive infections, which are the leading cause of GAS's burden on the Australian healthcare system. To address this gap, we used whole-genome sequencing to analyse the genomes of 318 S. pyogenes isolates collected within two geographical regions of NSW. Invasive isolates were collected in 2007-2017, whilst non-invasive isolates were collected in 2019-2021. We found that at least 66 different emm-types were associated with clinical disease within NSW. There was no evidence of any Australian-specific clones in circulation. The M1UK variant of the emm1 global pandemic clone (M1global) has been detected in our isolates from 2013 onwards. We detected antimicrobial-resistance genes (mainly tetM, ermA or ermB genes) in less than 10 % of our 318 isolates, which were more commonly associated with non-invasive infections. Superantigen virulence gene carriage was reasonably proportionate between non-invasive and invasive infection isolates. Our study adds rich data on the genetic makeup of historical S. pyogenes infections within Australia. Ongoing surveillance of invasive and non-invasive GAS infections within NSW by whole-genome sequencing is warranted to inform on outbreaks, antimicrobial resistance and vaccine coverage.

Keywords: group A streptococcus.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Pandemics
  • Streptococcus pyogenes* / genetics


  • Anti-Infective Agents