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Multiple Campylobacter Genomes Sequenced

In 1995, the first complete bacterial genome sequence was published. Now, nearly 200 bacterial genomes have been completed, and a new one hits the scientific press most weeks. This burgeoning industry is not just scientific “stamp collecting,?however. Having all these genome sequences may provide useful clues about why some bacteria cause human disease, how to control their spread, and how to treat the infections caused by them. By comparing genome sequences, scientists can learn much more about what makes a bacteria tick than they can learn from a single sequence.

Derrick Fouts and his colleagues have taken this comparative approach with Campylobacter. Infection with a Campylobacter species is one of the most common causes of human bacterial gastroenteritis. In the US, 15 out of every 100,000 people are diagnosed with campylobacteriosis every year, and with many cases going unreported, up to 0.5% of the general population may unknowingly harbor Campylobacter in their gut annually. Diarrhea, cramps, abdominal pain, and fever develop within 2? days of picking up a pathogenic Campylobacter species, and in most people, the illness lasts for 7?0 days. But the infection can sometimes be fatal, and some individuals develop Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the nerves that join the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body are damaged, sometimes permanently.

Campylobacteriosis is usually caused by C. jejuni, a spiral-shaped bacterium normally found in cattle, swine, and birds, where it causes no problems. But the illness can also be caused by C. coli (also found in cattle, swine, and birds), C. upsaliensis (found in cats and dogs), and C. lari (present in seabirds in particular). Disease-causing bacteria generally get into people via contaminated food, often undercooked or poorly handled poultry, although contact with contaminated water, livestock, or household pets can also cause disease.

In 2000, C. jejuni was the first food-borne pathogen to b
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Source:PLoS Biology


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