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Study provides new way to classify E. coli bacteria and test for fecal contamination
Date:4/11/2011

tract than commensal E. coli, which tells us that the environmental bacteria are highly unlikely to represent a risk to public health," explained Konstantinidis.

Collectively, this data also indicates that the environmental E. coli strains represent a distinct species from their commensal E. coli counterparts even though they are identified as E. coli based on the standard taxonomic methods. This work is consistent with a more stringent and ecologic definition for bacterial species than the current definition and suggests ways to start replacing traditional, culture-based approaches for defining diagnostic phenotypes of new species with genomic-based procedures.

The scientific, medical, regulatory and legal communities expect species to reasonably reflect the traits and habitat of an organism -- especially an organism like E. coli that has ramifications for diagnostic microbiology and for assessing fecal pollution of natural ecosystems. Efforts toward a more refined definition of this bacterial species are needed, according to Konstantinidis.

This study's findings provide a way to start redefining E. coli species and testing for fecal contamination with procedures based on genomics and ecology.

"We are now working to develop a molecular assay that uses the gastrointestinal-specific genes as robust biomarkers to count commensal E. coli cells in environmental samples more accurately than current methods," added Konstantinidis.


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Contact: Abby Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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