Scientists have analyzed the complete genome sequence of an emerging human pathogen, Streptococcus agalactiae (also known as group B streptococcus or "strep B"), which is a leading cause of pneumonia and meningitis in newborns and the source of life-threatening illnesses in a growing number of adults with deficient immune systems.
The study, published this week in the on-line version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), not only determined the pathogens genetic makeup but also compared it to other isolates of the same microbe. That analysis shed light onto why S. agalactiae -- which is found in the digestive or genital tracts of many healthy people – has emerged in recent years as a more widespread and virulent cause of illness in certain adults.
"We were surprised to find so many differences among the isolates of this important pathogen," said Hervé Tettelin, an associate investigator at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) who led the sequencing project. "Those differences could help explain why some strains of S. agalactiae are much more virulent than others."
Debbie Lebkicher | EurekAlert!
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