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Scientists sequence gut microbes of premature infant
Date:1/13/2011

Scientists have for the first time sequenced and reconstructed the genomes of most of the microbes in the gut of a premature newborn and documented how the microbe populations changed over time.

Further studies involving more infants could eventually help researchers understand the causes of various intestinal problems that afflict preemies, in particular the sometimes fatal necrotizing enterocolitis, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Stanford University. One unresolved question is whether these illnesses are caused by pathogenic strains of bacteria or just an imbalance in the microbe populations in the gut.

The study was posted online Dec. 29 in advance of print publication in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While this is not the first time that microbes in the human intestinal tract have been sequenced as a community, this is the first comprehensive look at a time series documenting colonization of the gut of a premature newborn, and one of few completely assembled community genomic datasets, said Jill Banfield, a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science and of environmental science, policy and management.

"Sequencing of microbial communities has become exceedingly common, but many researchers work with essentially unassembled data and often analyze very short contiguous DNA sequences genome fragments," she said. "We actually go in and work out where the assemblies failed and fix them what's called curating the data so we can build very complete genomes for most of the microbes."

Pediatric surgeon Michael J. Morowitz, until recently at The University of Chicago Medical Center but now with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, first approached Banfie
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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