Arcobacter: Foodborne Pathogen's Genome
By Marcia Wood
April 24, 2009
If a little-known microbe called
Arcobacter butzleri has contaminated the water you drink or the food you
eat, this troublesome pathogen could make you sick. Symptoms include diarrhea,
stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever, all of which can become chronic if
But investigations by Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) microbiologist
G. Miller and colleagues may speed discovery of innovative ways to control
In 2007, Miller and co-researchers deciphered the sequence of the pathogen's
genetic material, or genome. This work was a scientific "first" for
any of the world's Arcobacters. Based at the ARS
Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., Miller did the research with
co-investigators there and with others in the United States and abroad.
Since then, Miller has employed the genomic data in developing what's known
as a "typing method" to differentiate A. butzleri from
look-alike species, and to distinguish specific strains within those species.
Medical professionals, public health agencies and researchers can use it when
they're tracking the source of foodborne-illness outbreaks. In the past, for
example, A. butzleri has been implicated as a cause of such outbreaks in
Europe and Southeast Asia.
more about this research in the April 2009 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.