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BMC Microbiol. 2008 Oct 9;8:177. doi: 10.1186/1471-2180-8-177.

Development and application of the active surveillance of pathogens microarray to monitor bacterial gene flux.

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  • 1Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, Keppel Street, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, WC1E 7HT, UK.



Human and animal health is constantly under threat by emerging pathogens that have recently acquired genetic determinants that enhance their survival, transmissibility and virulence. We describe the construction and development of an Active Surveillance of Pathogens (ASP) oligonucleotide microarray, designed to 'actively survey' the genome of a given bacterial pathogen for virulence-associated genes.


The microarray consists of 4958 reporters from 151 bacterial species and include genes for the identification of individual bacterial species as well as mobile genetic elements (transposons, plasmid and phage), virulence genes and antibiotic resistance genes. The ASP microarray was validated with nineteen bacterial pathogens species, including Francisella tularensis, Clostridium difficile, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. The ASP microarray identified these bacteria, and provided information on potential antibiotic resistance (eg sufamethoxazole resistance and sulfonamide resistance) and virulence determinants including genes likely to be acquired by horizontal gene transfer (e.g. an alpha-haemolysin).


The ASP microarray has potential in the clinic as a diagnostic tool, as a research tool for both known and emerging pathogens, and as an early warning system for pathogenic bacteria that have been recently modified either naturally or deliberately.

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