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Researchers Sequence Genome of Bacteria Responsible for Botulinum Neurotoxin

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A team of researchers from the UK and Canada has sequenced the genome of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that produces botulinum neurotoxin and the causative agent of botulism.
The researchers published the results of their analysis last week in Genome Research. The genome contains a chromosome with 3.9 million base pairs and 3,650 predicted genes and a plasmid with 16,344 base pairs and 19 predicted genes.
The C. botulinum genome includes many genes that encode proteases and enzymes involved in uptake and metabolism of amino acids -- a not unexpected finding, given the fact that the organism obtains its nourishment from the decaying tissue of its host. “This pathogen relies on its toxin to rapidly kill a wide range of prey species, and to gain access to nutrient sources, it releases a large number of extracellular enzymes to soften and destroy rotting or decayed tissues,” the authors note in the paper.
The authors also note that they identified “a hitherto unknown ability of C. botulinum to degrade chitin,” as well as a lack of recently acquired DNA, which indicates stable genomic content.
Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; the UK’s Institute of Food Research; the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the School of Molecular Medical Sciences at the University of Nottingham, the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, and the Bureau of Microbial Hazards at Health Canada contributed to the project.

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