Link to DOI – https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.08.447214
The laboratory surveillance of bacillary dysentery is based on a standardised Shigella typing scheme that classifies Shigella strains into four serogroups and more than 50 serotypes on the basis of biochemical tests and lipopolysaccharide O-antigen serotyping. Real-time genomic surveillance of Shigella infections has been implemented in several countries, but without the use of a standardised typing scheme. We studied over 4,000 reference strains and clinical isolates of Shigella, covering all serotypes, with both the current serotyping scheme and the standardised EnteroBase core-genome multilocus sequence typing scheme (cgMLST). The Shigella genomes were grouped into eight phylogenetically distinct clusters, within the E. coli species. The cgMLST hierarchical clustering (HC) analysis at different levels of resolution (HC2000 to HC400) recognised the natural groupings for Shigella. By contrast, the serotyping scheme was affected by horizontal gene transfer, leading to a conflation of genetically unrelated Shigella strains and a separation of genetically related strains. The use of this cgMLST scheme will enhance the laboratory surveillance of Shigella infections.