TWO-RING CHOLERA CIRCUS DECODED
The complete genome sequence of the feared organism known as 'King Cholera' - the bacterium Vibrio cholerae - was announced this week (Nature, Vol. 406, Issue 6795, pp. 477-483, August 3, 2000).
The sequence is of medical and scientific importance. Cholera is one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known and poses a serious health risk in developing countries with poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water. Determining the bug's genetic blueprint should aid the development of new vaccines and medicines against the disease. The sequence also offers clues to a couple of scientific puzzles: how the bug can switch lifestyles (it lives in salt-water estuaries between epidemics) and how chromosomes develop.
V. cholerae DNA is split between two circular chromosomes - the smaller of which may originally have been free-living DNA captured by the bacteria, suggest Claire M. Fraser of the Institute for Genomic Research, Maryland, and colleagues.
The decoded cholera sequence will be a "treasure trove for researchers," say Matthew Waldor of the Tufts New England Medical Centre and Debabrata RayChaudhuri of the Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, in an accompanying News and Views article .
Sharon Dukes (TIGR press office)
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