Genome decoded of distant relative of human pathogens

The Sanger Institute has completed the sequence and analysis of Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica strain SCRI1043 (ATCC BAA-672).

This bacterium is an important plant pathogen, causing soft rot and blackleg in potato. However, it is also a member of the Enterobacteriaceae, a group of organisms usually found associated with animals, and it is related to Escherichia, Shigella, Salmonella and Yersinia, groups which include the bacteria responsible for food-poisoning, typhoid fever and plague in humans.

The analysis shows that Erwinia shares a common set of core functions with these organisms, but uses accessory factors, often acquired from other, unrelated, plant pathogens, to cause some aspects of disease. This study emphasises the evolutionary flexibility of this group of bacteria, and underlines that fact that common mechanisms are used for bacterial interaction with diverse eukaryotic hosts.

This project was carried out in collaboration with Dr Ian Toth and Dr Paul Birch of the Scottish Crop Research Institute, and Professor George Salmond of the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, and was funded by SEERAD.

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