An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine investigated whether the multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii isolated from diverse human body sites encoded genetic features that could be correlated to their isolation source. Published in BMC Genomics, the results of comparison using a whole genome approach with three isolates and focused PCR assay on more than 70 isolates demonstrated that A. baumannii is a diverse and genomically variable pathogen that appears to have the potential to cause a range of human disease, regardless of the isolation source.
Acinetobacter baumannii has emerged as a significant global pathogen, due to its persistence in the hospital environment, rapid acquisition of antibiotic resistance and the broad spectra of its antimicrobial resistance patterns. It has spread rapidly within hospitals and healthcare institutions. These features have made A. baumannii a highly studied emerging pathogen in the heathcare setting.
This study could have only been completed with the assembled interdisciplinary team of epidemiologists, clinical laboratory personnel, bioinformaticians and microbial genomics researchers from the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) and Epidemiology & Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Anthony Harris, director of the Division of Genomic Epidemiology and Clinical Outcomes and co-author on the paper, highlights that "additional genomic research needs to be done to elucidate why Acinetobacter baumanii has emerged as a hospital pathogen and what is contributing to its patient-to-patient spread. This study gets us closer to that goal".
This study provides insight into the genomic variability of A. baumannii within a hospital setting and body sites, which will allow us a better understanding of the basic processes of this emerging pathogen. says Rasko, the corresponding author on the study.