Bacteria, thirty previously unknown strains discovered


Effectively fight against infections caused by pathogenic bacteria it is necessary to know, on a case-by-case basis, the nature of the responsible person: to what species does he belong? What are its characteristics? Knowing how to answer these questions means having more elements to choose from adequate therapy fight infection. Even today, however, there are bacteria about which we have little information or which are difficult to recognize by routine laboratory analyses. It is for this reason that in 2014 a group of scientists led by Daniel Goldenberger, a researcher at the University Hospital in Basel (Switzerland), began to analyze samples taken from patients at the university clinic with the aim of isolate and characterize unrecognizable microorganisms using common diagnostic methods. Results published on Microbiology Bmcshow identification 35 previously unknown bacteriaof which seven are considered to be of possible clinical interest, i.e. potentially capable of causing human infections.

I am studying

Sylvia Suter, University Hospital Basel

The authors have developed a protocol called Nova (Novel Organism Verification and Analysis) that allows you to do this to study systematically difficult to identify bacteriaisolated, in the case of this study, from the blood or tissues of patients with very different clinical conditions. Typically, once bacteria are isolated, they must be cultured under specific conditions to expand their population and facilitate their study. The conventional analysis then they contain specifications for their identification spectrometry weight or partial sequencing genetic material.

When these two methods did not prove to be effective, the research team used a technique called Whole genome sequencing (Wgs), i.e. sequenced the entire bacterial genome so that it could then be compared with available information on known bacterial species. The researchers thus analyzed a total of 61 bacterial strains, of which 35 are the results completely unknown and potentially belong to new species. Other 26 instead, they belong to known species and have been classified as difficult to identify.

Identikit and next steps

Most of the new strains belong to the genus Corynebacterium or gender Shaalia: “Many species belonging to these two genera are found in natural microbiome human skin and mucous membranes. For this reason, they are often underestimated” explains Goldenberger. However, like many other usually harmless microorganisms, they can become pathogenic and cause infections under certain specific conditions.

Even among strains classified as difficult to identify, scientists have identified some one of possible clinical interest. The same was first isolated in 2022 from patients injured by domestic animals, and also in the work led by Goldenberger, the bacterium was isolated from a wound caused by a dog bite. According to the researcher, it is therefore “an emerging pathogen that needs to be monitored“.

In the meantime, the study authors will be busy naming each of the newly discovered bacterial strains.


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