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DNAGear- a free software for spa type identification in Staphylococcus aureus

Faroq AL-Tam1, Anne-Sophie Brunel2, Nicolas Bouzinbi2, Philippe Corne23, Anne-Laure Bañuls2 and Hamid Reza Shahbazkia1*

Author Affiliations

1 Universidade do Algarve, DEEI-FCT, Faro, Portugal

2 UMR MIVEGEC IRD 244-CNRS 5290-Universités Montpellier 1 et 2, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, 34394 Montpellier, France

3 Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Montpellier, Service de Réanimation Médicale, Hôpital Gui de Chauliac, Université Montpellier 1, 34295 Montpellier cedex 5, France

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:642  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-642

Published: 19 November 2012



Staphylococcus aureus is both human commensal and an important human pathogen, responsible for community-acquired and nosocomial infections ranging from superficial wound infections to invasive infections, such as osteomyelitis, bacteremia and endocarditis, pneumonia or toxin shock syndrome with a mortality rate up to 40%. S. aureus reveals a high genetic polymorphism and detecting the genotypes is extremely useful to manage and prevent possible outbreaks and to understand the route of infection. One of current and expanded typing method is based on the X region of the spa gene composed of a succession of repeats of 21 to 27 bp. More than 10000 types are known. Extracting the repeats is impossible by hand and needs a dedicated software. Unfortunately the only software on the market is a commercial program from Ridom.


This article presents DNAGear, a free and open source software with a user friendly interface written all in Java on top of NetBeans Platform to perform spa typing, detecting new repeats and new spa types and synchronizing automatically the files with the open access database. The installation is easy and the application is platform independent. In fact, the SPA identification is a formal regular expression matching problem and the results are 100% exact. As the program is using Java embedded modules written over string manipulation of well established algorithms, the exactitude of the solution is perfectly established.


DNAGear is able to identify the types of the S. aureus sequences and detect both new types and repeats. Comparing to manual processing, which is time consuming and error prone, this application saves a lot of time and effort and gives very reliable results. Additionally, the users do not need to prepare the forward-reverse sequences manually, or even by using additional tools. They can simply create them in DNAGear and perform the typing task. In short, researchers who do not have commercial software will benefit a lot from this application.