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The tiny difference in the genes of bacteria
Date:7/6/2009

ains in a short time. The method is based on the existence of short, repetitive DNA segments in the genome of all living species. As in a tandem bike, those segments are lined up on the DNA strand, called "tandem repeats". They are characteristic for every bacterial strain. To identify a certain strain, the HZI researchers use short DNA fragments, marked with certain dyes. Each dyed DNA fragment recognizes a single tandem repeat, binding at it. As a result, the researchers receive, for example, six red fragments binding a tandem of six repetitions. Then, the researchers analyzed the tandem repeats marked with dyed fragments: Every bacteria strain differs in pattern and size of the measured tandem repeats.

"With this method, we are able to differentiate more then 120 Vibrio parahaemolyticus strains," says Manfred Hfle. This is important for infectious diseases in which it is necessary to know which strain is the causative agent. Further information are whether it is just one or more strains and where they derive from. The latter can help to prevent spreading of the disease with corresponding sanctions. "The intake of Vibrio parahaemolytics often occurs through raw clams that have filtered contaminated sea water. With this method, we are able to say from which clam species the germ originates." The new technique can also be used to characterize other bacterial pathogens and to investigate how pathogenic bacteria evolve in the environment. "Hereby, this high resolution method makes an important contribution towards a fast and precise recognition of microbial pathogens with pandemic potential."


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Contact: Dr. Bastian Dornbach
bastian.dornbach@helmholtz-hzi.de
49-531-618-11407
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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