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Genomic Analysis Sheds Light on Legionnaires' Disease Outbreaks

A genetic analysis of Legionella pneumophila — the freshwater bacteria that is the primary cause of Legionnaires' disease — covering samples from more than three decades is presented in The Lancet Microbe this week, highlighting the benefits of genomic surveillance to address outbreaks of the pneumonic illness. Although most Legionnaires' disease cases are sporadic and unrelated to other infections, outbreaks can occur when a cluster of infections are linked to a common source such as air-conditioning systems. Despite an increase in the frequency of Legionnaires' disease infection, the epidemiology of infections remains unclear. In this week's study, a team led by scientists from the University of Edinburgh compared the genome sequences for all clinical isolates of L. pneumophila in Scotland between 1984 and 2020 with a sequence dataset of 3,211 local and globally representative isolates. They find that many Scottish Legionnaires' disease infections are caused by a small number of widely disseminated and previously undetected L. pneumophila clones found in community-, travel-, and hospital-related environments. "In light of these findings, we propose that cluster and outbreak definitions should be reconsidered and propose [whole-genome sequencing]-based surveillance as a critical public health tool for real-time identification and mitigation of clinically important endemic clones," the study's authors write

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.