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Genome sequencing provides unprecedented insight into causes of pneumococcal disease
Date:5/5/2013

e bacterial population's response to vaccination. Whole genome sequencingwhich reveals the DNA code for each bacterial strain to an unprecedented level of detailwas used to study a sample of 616 pneumococci collected in Massachusetts communities from 2001 to 2007.

This study confirmed that the parts of the bacterial population targeted by the vaccine have almost disappeared, and, surprisingly, revealed that they have been replaced by pre-existing rare types of bacteria. The genetic composition of the new population is very similar to the original one, except for a few genes that were directly affected by the vaccine. This small genetic alteration appears to be responsible for the large reduction in the rates of pneumococcal disease.

"The widespread use of whole genome sequencing will allow better surveillance of bacterial populations even those that are genetically diverse and improve understanding of their evolution," said Lipsitch. "In this study, we were even able to see how quickly these bacteria transmit between different regions within Massachusetts and identify genes associated with bacteria in children of different ages."

"In the future, we will be able to monitor evolutionary changes in real-time. If we can more quickly and precisely trace the emergence of disease-causing bacteria, we may be able to better target interventions to limit the burden of disease," said Bentley.


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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-8413
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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