Genome fully mapped for potential biological weapon
The bacterium that causes the severe disease known as rabbit fever, Fancisella tularensis, is a potential biological weapon of devastating force. Now scientists at Umeå, in collaboration with several international associates, have mapped the entire genome of the bacterium.
Researchers at the Swedish Defense Research Agency FOI NBC Defense and Umeå University are part of an international consortium that is now publishing its results in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics. The article is a report from the charting of the complete DNA sequence of the bacterium, so-called sequencing, and the study of the genome of a fully pathogenic strain of Francisella tularensis. The genome consists of nearly 1.9 billion base pairs, among which the scientists have managed to find 1,804 genes.
The functional description of the genome presents the pathogenic properties of the bacterium, including the formation of so-called pili, a type of projection that is used in infecting human cells. Another property described is the ability of the bacterium to absorb iron, a feature that is necessary for the bacterium to be able to bring about disease.
The mapping of the complete genome of Francisella tularensis is an important step forward in our understanding of how this bacterium causes disease in humans, and it will provide a great impetus for future work to create the possibility of protective measures to combat this potential biological weapon, which might be used by states or by terrorists. Japan developed weapons based on the bacterium in the 1930s and 1940s. The U.S. and the Soviet Union did the same thing later. There is some concern that biological weapons containing this bacterium still exist elsewhere in the world.
Rabbit fever is an acute disease that has been known in Sweden since the 1930s. The disease flares up among rodents at intervals of a few years, and the disease can then also infect humans, an example of zoonosis. The infection is normally transmitted by the bite of an anthropod that has previously eaten from an infected animal. An average of one hundred cases of rabbit fever are registered each year in Sweden, and more than 700 cases occurred in 2003.
The bacteria can be transmitted via insects, dust, and, in rare cases, water. The symptoms vary depending on how it was transmitted. Sores, swollen lymph nodes, and pneumonia, accompanied by a high and persistent fever, are characteristic. Ordinary penicillin has no effect on the bacterium, so special antibiotics are required for successful treatment. Without treatment, there is a great risk of complications, although these are not fatal in the Swedish variant of rabbit fever. In North America there is a more aggressive variant of the bacterium, which the sequenced strain belongs to, and there a certain proportion of rabbit fever cases lead to death.
Bertil Born | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...