Dissecting the genetic basis of melioidosis infection


  • Dr Kamolchanok Claire Chewapreecha

    Wellcome Major Overseas Programme – Thailand and Laos, Myanmar

Project summary

Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp) is an environmental bacterium that could be used for bioterrorism. It causes melioidosis, an infection that can cause death within 48 hours. Bp can be acquired through contact with contaminated soil or water, yet not all exposure results in disease. Genetic variations in the bacteria and host may help determine who is susceptible to the disease and how severe the infection will be. It has also been found that people with diabetes are more susceptible to developing the disease.

Building upon a previous dataset from north-east Thailand, we will collect and sequence Bp genomes and patient blood genetics to identify markers that lead to poorer outcomes. We will investigate how a person’s diabetic status would modulate disease severity for each human and bacteria-genetic variant. We will also construct a model predicting likely disease outcomes. 

Our findings will inform vaccine design by targeting the most harmful bacteria and the people at the greatest risk of infection.