Some species of Rickettsia are known to cause harmful diseases in humans, such as epidemic typhus (R. prowazekii) and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (R. rickettsii), while others have been identified as emerging pathogens and organisms that might possibly be used for the development of biological weapons. The new data, which are publicly available via the PATRIC project web site (patric.vbi.vt.edu), open up exciting new possibilities for future research.
Dr. Joseph Gillespie, a bioinformatician at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and leader of the study, remarked: “Over the past ten years, an average of one genome per year has been sequenced for the Rickettsia, which represents a considerable genomic treasure trove for evolutionary studies. We have systematically probed the genomic data available for Rickettsia to reveal how rickettsial genomes have given rise to the great diversity of organisms that we know today. This approach sheds light on the evolutionary intricacies of Rickettsia and suggests how some members of the group have developed into potent pathogens responsible for significant diseases in humans.”
In the study, the researchers defined a core Rickettsia genome by looking at a large number of genes that could potentially encode for proteins in the ten genomes under investigation. This information was used to generate over 700 groups of orthologous proteins that theoretically could have originated from a common ancestor. A similar exercise yielded over 1,300 orthologous groups of proteins that define the accessory genome. Digging further into the accessory genome yielded signature proteins that define the four major rickettsial groups, as well as species infecting common arthropod hosts and species harboring plasmids. Surprisingly, and contrary to previous dogma regarding rickettsial genome evolution, the accessory genome contained many likely elements of the bacterial mobile gene pool.
VBI Director and PATRIC Principal Investigator Bruno Sobral remarked: “Virulent species of Rickettsia are of great interest both as emerging agents of infectious disease and potential bioterror agents. We believe the current work provides a robust evolutionary framework that allows for the interpretation of the genomic characteristics of the four main lineages of Rickettsia. As such it provides an ideal resource for research directed at developing vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for the diverse group of pathogens that constitute the Rickettsia.”
Dr. Gillespie concluded: “The results obtained in this study are consistent with the recent explosion in the number of identified plasmids in Rickettsia. By making these data available we hope to enable future research into these intriguing organisms.”
Barry Whyte | EurekAlert!
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve University
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences