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Legionnaires Disease Bacterium Genome Offers New Insights

NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (GenomeWeb News) - Scientists led by ColumbiaUniversityhave sequenced the genome of Legionella pneumophila, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease.


The analysis of the genome, which is four million base pairs long, was published in this week's Science. The ColumbiaGenomeCenterscientists found genes for unexpected metabolic pathways, new candidate virulence determinants, selective expansions of certain gene families, and a stretch of DNA that can exist in chromosomal and episomal forms.


L. pneumophila was first recognized as a human pathogen after  an outbreak of fatal pneumonia at an American Legion convention in Philadelphiain the 1970s. The bacterium, which is found within biofilms as well as fresh and industrial water systems, is able to survive in difficult environments, for example plumbing systems treated with potent biocides. In addition, it has the ability to steer the organelle trafficking systems of hosts cells.

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