Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evolutionary Intricacies Of Rickettsia Pathogens Revealed

Date:
April 29, 2008
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Scientists have unveiled some of the evolutionary intricacies of rickettsial pathogens by analyzing over a decade's worth of genomic data. Some species of Rickettsia cause such disease as epidemic typhus and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, while other species have been identified as emerging pathogens and organisms that might be weaponized.

Scientists from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland School of Medicine have unveiled some of the evolutionary intricacies of rickettsial pathogens by analyzing over a decade's worth of genomic data. 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.

Related Articles


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." 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.

VBI researchers Joseph Gillespie, Kelly Williams, Maulik Shukla, Eric Snyder, Eric Nordberg, Chitti Dharmanolla, Daphne Rainey, Jeetendra Soneja, Joshua Shallom, Nataraj Dongre Vishnubhat, Rebecca Wattam, Anjan Purkayastha, Michael Czar, Oswald Crasta, João Setubal, and Bruno Sobral, along with University of Maryland colleagues Shane Ceraul and Abdu F. Azad contributed to the paper, "Rickettsia phylogenomics: unwinding the intricacies of obligate intracellular life." The paper is featured in the April 16, 2008 edition of the online publication PLoS One.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Evolutionary Intricacies Of Rickettsia Pathogens Revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428154720.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2008, April 29). Evolutionary Intricacies Of Rickettsia Pathogens Revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428154720.htm
Virginia Tech. "Evolutionary Intricacies Of Rickettsia Pathogens Revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428154720.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) — Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) — If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins