Antique Bacteria

With cholera outbreaks in Yemen and Mozambique, researchers looked to a WWI-era strain for clues to understanding spread.

Scientists mapped the genome from the oldest known sample of the V. cholerae bacterium, taken from a soldier in 1916. Analysis revealed a non-toxigenic strain that lacked flagella, which enable the bacteria to swim.

Regardless of the strain’s distant relation to current outbreaks, “Studying strains from different points in time can give deeps insights into the evolution of this species of bacteria and link that to historical reports of human disease,” says study co-lead Nick Thomson.


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