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Third-party-funded project

Evolution of pathogenic properties in the genus Bordetella

Project management at the University of Würzburg:

The project deals with the characterization of evolutionary processes which lead to the expression of different pathogenic properties in various Bordetella species. The genus Bordetella comprises several pathogenic species, which cause infections in man and several animals. The most prominent member of the genus is B. pertussis, the etiological agent of whooping cough, which despite the availability of effective vaccines still is a major health problem in particular in the less developed countries. In our project we compare the genetic and the virulence properties of the so-called "classical" Bordetella species including B. pertussis, B. parapertussis and B. bronchiseptica with the respective properties of the "new" Bordetella species including B. holmesii, B. hinzii B. avium and B. trematum. These new species have been recognized only recently to be infectious agents of man or several animals, respectively. Of particular interest is a new Bordetella species, Bordetella petrii, which we have recently isolated from a river sediment and which represents the first Bordetella species of environmental origin. The species specific virulence properties investigated in the project mainly comprise strategies of intracellular survival of the bacteria after their uptake in professional phagocytes or their resistance against antimicrobial compounds produced by the host such as cationic peptides. In addition genetic differences between these species are identified and characterized.

Key words:
    whooping cough

Projekt period: from 01.1998 to 12.2003

Funding institution:

Preceding project:
DFG Gr1243-3-1