Can we have multiple-bacteria infections?

20 March 2012

Question

How do you know you're getting the sequence of just one strain of bacterium rather than a mixture?

Answer

Estee - At the moment, the whole genome sequencing that we're doing can only be done from a pure bacterial culture. We usually know in that situation that when we pick a colony, we pick one or two colonies from a plate, we can be pretty certain that it's a single strain, so a single bacterial isolate. However, patients can obviously present with polymicrobial infections and again, we'd be able to tell that from looking at the agar plate. There'd be bugs that look different on the plate. But at the moment when we sequence them, we pick one or two colonies of identical looking organisms and we know then that we're sequencing one strain.

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