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Scientists Sequence Genome of Wolbachia, Key Bacterium in Nematode Infection

NEW YORK, March 29 (GenomeWeb News) - A group of US scientists has sequenced the entire genome of Wolbachia, a symbiotic bacterium required for fertility and survival of the human filarial parasitic nematode Brugia malayi.


Researchers from New England Biolabs, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Integrated Genomics, and the Institute for Genomic Research collaborated on the project. The sequence is published in the April 2005 issue of PLoS Biology.


This is the second complete genome sequence published for Wolbachia, but the first from a parasitic nematode. Specifically, the researchers sequenced the genome of Wolbachia pipientis, and discovered the bacterium had approximately 1 million base pairs.


Infection with Brugia malayi is responsible for debilitating diseases such as elephantiasis and African river blindness, and is estimated to affect more than 150 million people worldwide, according to the article.


The researchers hope that sequencing Wolbachia may help identify new strategies for treating diseases caused by Brugia malayi because the nematode relies on the symbiotic relationship between the two for survival.

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