Of the ten or so validly classified Brachyspira species, many are associated with pigs either as gastrointestinal pathogens or commensal organisms. Among these, B. hyodysenteriae and B. pilosicoli are recognised as significant pathogens, causing swine dysentery and spirochaete colitis/intestinal spirochaetosis respectively. B. hyodysenteriae is host-specific whilst B. pilosicoli infection has been reported in a range of species including dogs and humans – there is some evidence for cross-species transmission of B. pilosicoli.
Brachyspira species are anaerobic and, in common with many spirochaetes, their cultivation in the laboratory is difficult. Partly as a result of this, characterisation of these bacteria and understanding of disease processes remains rudimentary. The recent publication of Brachyspira genome sequences will assist in defining bacterial factors of importance during infection.
In December 2009 we commenced a project jointly with colleagues at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC). This PhD studentship is funded by the British Pig Executive (BPEX) to conduct comparative genomics and proteomics of Brachyspira hyodysenteriae.
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