Genomic Analysis of the Classical Bordetella

Nine Gram-negative species of bacteria comprise the genus Bordetella, a group of common respiratory pathogens. B. bronchiseptica, B. pertussis, and B. parapertussis are the three most commonly studied species within this genus and are referred to as the “classical Bordetella.” B. pertussis and B. parapertussis are the causative agents of whooping cough or pertussis in humans, while B. bronchiseptica colonizes a broad range of mammalian hosts and causes various disease severities ranging from lethal pneumonia to asymptomatic respiratory infections (Goodnow RA, 1980).

Whooping cough or pertussis is prevalent throughout the world, resulting in an estimated 16 million cases and 195,000 deaths per year in developing countries (WHO, 2008). Despite high vaccination rates in industrialized countries, whooping cough cases have been steadily increasing over the past three decades, leading to its recent classification by the CDC as a re-emerging disease (Celentano, L. P. et al. 2005, CDC. 2002, de Melker, H. E., et al. 2000).

The reemergence of pertussis in developed countries including US, the interesting phylogenetic relationship between the classical Bordetella species and amongst B. bronchiseptica lineages, the remarkable ability of these organisms to infect a large and diverse set of hosts, and the continual spillover of many of these lineages to diverse hosts including humans are compelling reasons why the addition of more genomic sequence information about the various lineages will be valuable. In addition, the recent recognition that a substantial proportion of whooping cough in the USA is caused by B. parapertussis, as well as our recently published evidence that the new acellular vaccines actually increase B. parapertussis colonization levels (Long GH et al, 2010), are compelling reasons to explore this lineage in particular. In order to understand the speciation and evolution of the Bordetellae, and the adaptation of multiple lineages to infect humans, we propose to sequence several strains of B. bronchiseptica, B. parapertussis and B. pertussis.

White Paper Access

The initial white paper submitted can be downloaded here. Since white papers are not always approved exactly as submitted, this document may not exactly describe the final form of the project. Please contact if you have any questions. 


This project has been funded in whole or part with federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services under contract numbers N01-AI30071 and/or HHSN272200900007C.


Eric T Harvill, PhD
Vivek Kapur, PhD
Ying Zhang, PhD
Dept. of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Penn State

Karen Register, PhD
Tracy Nicholson, PhD
National Animal Disease Center, USDA/ARS, Ames, IA

James M. Musser, PhD
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University

Andrew Preston, PhD
Veterinary Public Health University of Bristol, Univ. of Bristol, U.K.


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