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Sharon Horn and William Miller prepare samples of Campylobacter for DNA analysis. Monitor shows sequence of DNA sample run earlier. Link to photo information
Technician Sharon Horn and microbiologist William Miller prepare samples of Campylobacter for automated analysis of DNA sequence. The monitor shows the sequence of a DNA sample run earlier. Click the image for more information about it.

"Bad-Guy" Bacterium's Genetic Structure Probed

By Marcia Wood
October 19, 2006

Inner workings of a food-poisoning organism called Campylobacter lari have been uncovered in greater detail than ever before by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in California. Their forays into the genetic makeup, or genome, of this little-known pathogen reveal new details about the structure, or sequence, of its genes.

Research microbiologist William G. Miller of the agency's Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit led the investigation, working forward from a rough draft of the genome prepared earlier for ARS by The Institute for Genomic Research, Rockville, Md. Miller is based at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif.

C. lari is a cousin of the better-known C. jejuni, another "bad-guy" bacterium. C. jejuni causes millions of cases of diarrhea every year, according to Miller. Food poisoning outbreaks occurring in some other countries have been attributed to C. lari and have attracted the attention of U.S. food safety researchers and public health professionals.

The new knowledge about the structure of C. lari genes could open the door to innovative strategies that snafu the microbe's ability to infect us.

Read more about this and other ARS food safety research in the October 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.