The Genomes of Pathogenic Bartonella Species

Carolin Frank, Eva Berglund, and Siv G. E. Andersson 13.1


The genus Bartonella contains several important human pathogens responsible for a wide range of disease manifestations including trench fever, cat-scratch disease, and Carrion's disease. Pathogenic Bartonella are unique among bacteria in that they can cause tumor-like lesions of the skin in HIV-positive individuals. The recent sequencing of the 1.6-Mb genome of Bartonella quintana, the agent of trench fever, and the 1.9-Mb genome of Bartonella henselae, the agent of cat-scratch disease, has provided insights into the origin of B. quintana as a human-specific pathogen, as well as into the putative role of auxiliary replicons, phages, and genomic islands to the evolution of these bacteria. Bartonella are intracellular bacteria that naturally circulate between mammals and arthropod vectors. There are currently about 20 described Bartonella species that infect a wide variety of domestic and wild animals, using a broad diversity of blood-sucking arthropods for transmission. Humans serve as the natural host for two Bartonella species, B. quintana and B. bacilliformis, but several others can incidentally infect humans.

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