Burkholderia Pseudomallei Genome Project

Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of the infectious disease melioidosis, is a CDC Category B biological threat agent, and occurs as a soil organism in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. Incidents of melioidosis are generally confined to these endemic areas. Recent surveys, however, show that the organism is much more prevalent worldwide than previously believed, and isolation of B. pseudomallei from the environment and in clinical situations in parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe and in Central and South America has been documented.

NIH-NIAID has funded this genome project to sequence nine phenotypically characterized strains of B. pseudomallei, as well as 25 B. pseudomalleibacteriophage genomes isolated from 48 different B. pseudomallei strains from various geographic and clinical sources. Variable horizontal gene acquisition by B. pseudomallei is an important feature of recent genetic evolution, and has resulted in a genetically diverse bacterial species. The goal of this project is to identify the specific nucleotide sequences and/or single nucleotide polymorphisms that are correlated with expression of virulence and disease via comparative genomic analysis between B. pseudomallei strains as well as between various bacteriophages harbored within B. pseudomallei. All data will be released immediately in the public domain. A repository of well-characterized strains will be made publicly available for further studies. This work will increase our knowledge of the virulence of this understudied biothreat pathogen and provide a foundation for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic countermeasures and a protective vaccine for melioidosis.


David DeShazer
Genetics and Physiology Branch, Bacteriology Division U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

Herve Tettelin
Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Donald E. Woods
Microbiology and Infectious Disease, University of Calgary Health Science Center, Canada

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