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The Genetics of Lyme Disease: Hybrids and False Negatives

Qui and Martin have shown Borellia burgdorferi sensu lato involved in Lyme illness, is profoundly complex. In contrast to syphilis that does not seem to have a proven biotoxin or biofilm, bacterial species creating Lyme Disease has immensely complex and variable genetics.

These bacteria do not sit around, but perform frequent recombination. For example, B. burgdorferi genomes revealed a highly dynamic plasmid composition.

Recombination among coexisting strains occurs at a rate that is roughly three times the mutation rate.

It is still not known what triggers genetic variation and recombination, e.g., environmental change such as temperature or humidity, vector movement, or other adaptations already published.

Based on this advanced research, it seems wisdom would have us anticipate an explosive growth of the number of Bb or Lyme disease genomes sampled from both within and among species. This likely requires methods to test adaptive mechanisms and to identify molecular bases of phenotypic variations. Genome sequencing is also necessary to monitor the ongoing genetic mixture of species and populations in the USA, Canada and Europe, and other countries around the world.

Source: doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2014.03.025.

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