Researchers at the US government science laboratories claim to have identified the structure of all of the genes in a specially selected C. jejuni strain.
According to the scientists, this is the first time a C. jejuni strain from a farm animal, in this case, a market chicken, has been sequenced. Chicken is the leading source of the harmful bacterium in food.
Campylobacters, mainly spiral-shaped, S-shaped or curved, rod-shaped bacteria, are a major cause of diarrhoeal illness in humans. In developed and developing countries, they cause more cases of diarrhoea than foodborne Salmonella bacteria.
According to the UN-backed World Health Organisation (WHO) in almost all developed countries, the incidence of human campylobacter infections has been steadily increasing for several years, the reasons for this are unknown.
There are 16 species and six subspecies assigned to the genus Campylobacter, of which the most frequently reported in human disease are C. jejuni (subspecies jejuni) and C. coli. Scientists at the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in California are hoping the identification of the gene code for the C. jejuni strain will lead to the discovery of faster, more reliable ways to detect the microbe in samples from food, as well as animals, humans and water.
They also hope the gene-based research will pave the way for simpler, less-expensive tactics for distinguishing look-alike species and strains of Campylobacter and its close relatives, 'so that culprit microbes in food poisoning outbreaks can be identified more quickly.'