MOLECULAR SYSTEMATICS AND COMPARATIVE POPULATION GENETICS OF PARASITIC ORGANISMS THAT THREATEN FOOD SAFETY AND SECURITY
Project Number: 1265-42000-011-00
Start Date: Jan 19, 2006
End Date: Jan 18, 2011
Objective 1: Employing single-gene and genomic approaches, improve diagnosis of protists and nematodes that parasitize major food animals and that facilitate establishment, internalization, and survival of bacterial pathogens in produce.
Subobjective A: better characterize the molecular epidemiology of parasitic coccidia and trichinella.
Subobjective B: better characterize those bacterophagous eukaryotic microbes that may convey and help establish in produce pathogenic bacteria.
Objective 2: Develop a molecular phylogeny of coccidia in fish in order to better define their potential risk to food safety and security, and in order to better understand the relationship between Eimeriidae (including the agents of avian coccidiosis) and the Sarcocystidae (including the agent of human toxoplasmosis).
Objective 3: Better define the historical and ongoing interactions among wildlife and livestock reservoirs of Toxoplasma gondii through comparative population genetic analysis.
Several genes will be sequenced from parasites obtained from a wide array of animals, both domesticated and wild. These will be compared to each other, and to sequences obtained from human beings, in order to define the diversity and epidemiology of these parasite species. Homologues will be characterized for genes whose global variation has already begun to be studied in T. gondii, including the Intergenic Spacer sequence between rRNA genes, beta tubulin introns, and others. Characterization of microsatellite alleles will be considered as a second approach which, although requiring a greater investment of time and resources, should provide greater population genetic resolution than is possible with current loci.