New genetic research shows how Salmonella bacteria exploit niches in pork production

Genomic research from the United Kingdom reveals how variants of Salmonella impact pig and human health.
calendar icon 5 May 2021
clock icon 5 minute read

Inspection of changes in the genome sequence of U288 indicated that this variant emerged by a unique set of changes that occurred within a short period of time, probably between the years 1980 and 2000. The researchers believe that these changes hold the key to understanding how this variant interacts differently with pigs during infections, in the lab, and potentially the food chain.

"We have seen these types of changes before in variants of Salmonella that have become adapted to specific host species and cause a more invasive disease, including the type of Salmonella that causes typhoid fever in people but does not affect other species," said Professor Rob Kingsley, a group leader at the Quadram Institute and Professor of Microbiology at the University of East Anglia.

"One of the interesting findings is just how rapidly pathogens can adapt, and how even a few genomic changes can lead to very different disease outcomes," said Dr Matt Bawn a researcher involved in the study based at both the Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute.

Professor Stevens, Chair of Microbial Pathogenesis and a Deputy Director at The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, added "Understanding how variants of Salmonella emerge and pinpointing the genetic signatures responsible for adaptation to different hosts and the ability to produce disease will provide opportunities to improve diagnostics and surveillance. In turn this will help to predict the risk that Salmonella variants pose to animal health and food safety."

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