University of Minnesota researchers, with collaborators at the U. S. Department of Agricultures National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, have completed sequencing the genome of the bacteria that causes Johnes disease, a major chronic wasting disease found in dairy cattle. The bacterium, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, is considered one of the most important threats to the health of dairy cattle worldwide and may represent a potential risk to the safety of the milk supply. The gene sequencing will allow researchers to develop new ways of early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of a disease that costs the dairy industry more than $200 million a year. The results of the sequencing analysis are available online at www.pathogenoics.umn.edu, and more about Johnes disease can be found at www.johnes.org.
"This is a horrible, hard to diagnose disease, largely because we lacked an understanding of the basic genetic makeup of the organism and the tools to differentiate the bacterium from other closely related species," said principal investigator Vivek Kapur, Ph.D., a faculty member in the University of Minnesota Medical School and College of Veterinary Medicine, director of the universitys Advanced Genetic Analysis Center and co-director of the Biomedical Genomics Center. "The genome sequence sheds new light on the genes and biochemical pathways in the bacterium, and the research offers a starting point for defining the mechanisms by which the organism causes disease and helping devise new strategies to detect infected animals and ultimately help control the spread of the organism."
M. paratuberculosis is a slow-growing bacterium that causes a chronic gastrointestinal infection in dairy cattle and other small ruminant species (such as sheep, goat, and deer) and has both serious health and economic consequences to dairy farming worldwide. While the bacterium has been recognized to cause Johnes disease for more than 100 years, methods for satisfactory diagnosis, treatment and prevention are lacking.
Deane Morrison | EurekAlert!
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