Adaptation to life inside cattle may be driving E. coli to develop harmful features

phys.org | 9/21/2016 | Staff
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A large-scale study of the genetic differences and similarities among E. coli bacteria from cattle and humans indicates that features causing food poisoning in humans may continuously be emerging in bacteria from cattle as a means to better adapt to their environment.

While E. coli bacteria are one of the most well-known causes of food poisoning, a wide variety of E. coli strains exists, many of which are harmless, permanent residents of our intestines. However, the ingestion of harmful strains of E. coli on contaminated food can lead to severe illness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Measures - Understanding - Source - Conditions - Bacteria

"To develop the most effective preventive measures, we need a deep understanding of the source and living conditions of the bacteria," says Yoshitoshi Ogura, associate professor at Kyushu University's Department of Bacteriology, who led the research.

"Although cattle have long been thought to be a main source of E. coli that cause food poisoning, why dangerous forms would keep appearing in cattle has been unclear."

Ogura - Group - Collaboration - Researchers - Japan

Ogura's group, in collaboration with researchers across Japan and in France, Belgium, and the United States, set out to help answer this question by investigating the genetics of E. coli bacteria collected from cattle and humans in 21 countries spanning six continents.

"To date, there have been only a limited number of reports of the genome sequences of E. coli from cattle, so we needed to fill that gap," comments Yoko Arimizu, first author...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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