Scientists sequence novel Clostridium botulinum strain's genome

Scientists at the Norwich Research Park in the United Kingdom have successfully sequenced the genome of a novel strain of Clostridium botulinum that can produce a deadly neurotoxin and could be used as biological terrorism weapon.

The strain produces an unusual botulinum neurotoxin called type A5 neurotoxin, reports. By sequencing the complete genome, the researchers hope to be able to manage any possible threat that the new strain poses.

"Our analysis of the genome sequence indicates that while the type of neurotoxin formed is unusual, the organism itself appears closely related to other strains of Clostridium botulinum, and is likely to pose a similar threat to food safety and biosecurity,” Mike Peck, a professor and researcher at the Institute of Food Research, said, according to

The genome sequence was generated by The Genome Analysis Center using sequencing platforms known as Roche 454 and Illumina GAII. Remaining gaps were closed by Professor Peck’s group using other sequencing methods.

"Having TGAC on our doorstep was extremely useful for this project, and will be a boon for IFR science," Peck said, reports. "It has enabled us to evaluate the threat that this new strain may pose to food safety and biosecurity by rapidly delivering a complete genome, finished genome sequence."

The novel strain has no more additional neurotoxin genes than the ones found in the traditional C. botulinum strains. Spore germination genes are also similar between the two strains.