Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are the leading cause of skin, soft tissue and several other types of infections. Staph is also a global public threat due to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant strains, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Yet Staph also commonly colonize our nasal passages and other body sites without harm. To better understand these bacteria and develop more effective treatments, University of California San Diego researchers examined not just a single representative Staph genome, but the "pan-genome" -- the genomes of 64 different strains that differ in where they live, the types of hosts they infect and their antibiotic resistance profiles.
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