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Salmonella Strain's Path To Virulence Uncovered

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have uncovered genetic evidence about the evolutionary path that transformed Salmonella enteritidis from an innocuous bacterium into a virulent pathogen. S. enteritidis, like many bacteria, reproduces very quickly--every 20 minutes in optimal conditions, according to veterinary medical officer Jean Guard-Bouldin in the ARS Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit in Athens, Ga.

Such a fast reproductive pace allows the organism to accumulate genetic variations. Only healthy competitors go on to reproduce, survive and develop the mechanisms needed to infect the egg. Using DNA analysis, Guard-Bouldin is looking at evolutionary evidence to determine how some S. enteritidis strains became pathogenic. Studying how S. enteritidis evolves and infects hens on the farm may someday help reduce levels of infection.
 
 

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