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This Week in Genome Biology: Nov 6, 2014

An international team used genome sequencing and comparative genomics to try to understand genetic features found in dangerous Legionella species. The researchers sequenced the genomes of three Legionella species that are rarely found in humans and not typically associated with Legionnaires' disease. With the help of existing genome sequence data, they then compared 11 genomes representing five Legionella species, uncovering a wide range of mobile genetic elements, species-specific genes, and sequences suspected of contributing to Legionella lifestyles and host ranges.

Researchers from the UK took their own look at Legionella, focusing on gene flow in clinical isolates of a Legionnaires' disease-causing species L. pneumophila, which caused an outbreak in Edinburgh in 2012. When they sequenced 22 isolates from the outbreak and compared them to eight more L. pneumophila genomes, the study's authors saw "previously cryptic levels of pathogen heterogeneity" within the UK outbreak, "a discovery that impacts on source attribution for future outbreak investigations." The researchers add that their "data suggest that in addition to host immune status, pathogen diversity may be an important influence on the clinical outcome of individual outbreak infections."

A Cornell University-led team sequenced and started analyzing the genome of the housefly, Musca domestica. Within the resulting assembly, which spanned almost 700 million bases of the fly's genome, researchers identified genes that appear to contribute to the insect's ability to decompose waste and harbor a wide range of entities that are pathogenic to other creatures without detrimental effects. Compared to other insects, for instance, the housefly genome contains higher-than-usual representation of chemical receptor and smell-related genes, as well as an over-representation of genes involved in detoxification. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study, here.