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Genome Med. 2014 Nov 29;6(11):114. doi: 10.1186/s13073-014-0114-2. eCollection 2014.

Clinical detection and characterization of bacterial pathogens in the genomics era.

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Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes, UM63, CNRS7278, IRD198, InsermU1095, Institut hospitalo-universitaire Méditerranée-Infection, Aix-Marseille University, Faculté de Medecine, 27 Blvd Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille, cedex 5 France.


The availability of genome sequences obtained using next-generation sequencing (NGS) has revolutionized the field of infectious diseases. Indeed, more than 38,000 bacterial and 5,000 viral genomes have been sequenced to date, including representatives of all significant human pathogens. These tremendous amounts of data have not only enabled advances in fundamental biology, helping to understand the pathogenesis of microorganisms and their genomic evolution, but have also had implications for clinical microbiology. Here, we first review the current achievements of genomics in the development of improved diagnostic tools, including those that are now available in the clinic, such as the design of PCR assays for the detection of microbial pathogens, virulence factors or antibiotic-resistance determinants, or the design of optimized culture media for 'unculturable' pathogens. We then review the applications of genomics to the investigation of outbreaks, either through the design of genotyping assays or the direct sequencing of the causative strains. Finally, we discuss how genomics might change clinical microbiology in the future.

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