Analysis of the genetic structure of nontypeable pneumococcal strains isolated from conjunctiva.
ABSTRACT More than 50% of the nontypeable (NT) pneumococcal strains received in our laboratory for reference purposes are isolated in sporadic cases of conjunctivitis. To determine the genetic structure of the population of these NT conjunctival strains, we analyzed 75 pneumococci (40 NT and 35 typeable) isolated from conjunctivas and 30 (15 NT and 15 typeable) isolated from other sources. The NT and typeable conjunctival strains grouped in separate clusters, whereas NT and typeable pneumococci isolated from other sources were similarly distributed. NT conjunctival strains belonged to two well-differentiated clonal lineages. The first, represented by three newly described sequence types, featured fully antibiotic susceptible strains and appeared to be characteristic of conjunctival tissue; the second, represented by the previously described ST344, had a pattern of multiresistance to penicillin, tetracycline, and erythromycin and shared a genetic background with some NT strains isolated from other sources.