Background: Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) has emerged as a nosocomial pathogen worldwide. The dissemination of VREfm is due to both clonal spread and spread of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) such as transposons.
Objectives: We aimed to combine vanB-carrying transposon data with core-genome MLST (cgMLST) typing and epidemiological data to understand the pathways of transmission in nosocomial outbreaks.
Methods: Retrospectively, 36 VREfm isolates obtained from 34 patients from seven VREfm outbreak investigations in 2014 were analysed. Isolates were sequenced on a MiSeq and a MinION instrument. De novo assembly was performed in CLC Genomics Workbench and the hybrid assemblies were obtained through Unicycler v0.4.1. Ridom SeqSphere+ was used to extract MLST and cgMLST data. Detailed analysis of each transposon and their integration points was performed using the Artemis Comparison Tool (ACT) and multiple blast analyses.
Results: Four different vanB transposons were found among the isolates. cgMLST divided ST80 isolates into three cluster types (CTs); CT16, CT104 and CT106. ST117 isolates were divided into CT24, CT103 and CT105. Within VREfm isolates belonging to CT103, two different vanB transposons were found. In contrast, VREfm isolates belonging to CT104 and CT106 harboured an identical vanB transposon.
Conclusions: cgMLST provides a high discriminatory power for the epidemiological analysis of VREfm. However, additional transposon analysis is needed to detect horizontal gene transfer. Combining these two methods allows investigation of both clonal spread as well as the spread of MGEs. This leads to new insights and thereby better understanding of the complex transmission routes in VREfm outbreaks.