Scientists find new markers for anthrax isolates


To evaluate whether those newly-found genomic differences are useful genetic markers to discriminate between anthrax strains, TIGR worked with Keim to use the new markers to analyze 6 anthrax isolates that initially had appeared to be indistinguishable from the original Ames strain based on existing genotype information. The new markers allowed the scientists to divide the 6 Ames isolates into 4 different categories.

TIGR shared its data with scientists from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who are investigating last falls anthrax mailings, but Fraser said the TIGR research project was not part of that investigation. She said the FBI had placed no restrictions on TIGRs publication of its results in a scientific journal.

To support the claims made in its paper, as well as to make it possible for outside researchers to search for additional differences in the genomic sequence of B. anthracis , TIGR has posted sets of anthrax data on its website (www.tigr.org): 1) the set of all assembled contigs (contiguous small segments of the genome) of all sizes; 2) the set of individual sequences that were used to create those contigs; 3) a file containing the quality values (estimates of error rates) for each individual sequence; and 4) a set of 1,000-base pair regions centered on each SNP to allow other scientists to identify and test the markers on other anthrax strains. Sequence data from the B. anthracis research also have been placed in the Genbank repository.

Read and his team plan to publish the full sequence of the B. anthracis genome in a scientific journal later this year. The genomic sequence will boost the efforts to develop new vaccines, drugs and detection methods, Read said. He added that the next wave of TIGR anthrax research will help make B. anthracis a model for how genomics can be used to study bacterial pathogens.


Contact: Robert Koenig
The Institute for Genomic Research

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