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Multinational Research Team Led by J. Craig Venter Institute's Ewen Kirkness Sequence Body Louse Genome
Date:6/21/2010

ct species, especially in the areas related to insect growth and development.

The body louse usually lives in clothing, with infestations associated with unwashed clothes for prolonged time. Infestations of body lice and the closely related head lice can cause a range of problems in humans from mild irritations to serious disease. The body louse can carry harmful bacteria, such as Rickettsia prowazekii that causes epidemic typhus, and is classified as a category B bioterrorism agent. Body and head lice are also becoming increasingly resistant to traditional pesticides so the sequencing of the body louse genome will help in the important search for new control methods facilitated by detailed molecular studies. Having the complete genome of the bacteria, Riesia, that lives within lice and provide the lice with essential nutrients such as vitamin B5, provides additional potential targets for lice eradication.

According to lead author Dr. Kirkness, "With the genome sequences of the human host, the body louse parasite, and the Riesia endosymbiont now in hand, researchers have the opportunity to gain greater insights into the co-evolution of a host-parasite-symbiont trio with the potential outcome being eradication of the body louse."

About the J. Craig Venter Institute

The JCVI is a not-for-profit research institute in Rockville, MD and La Jolla, CA dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. Founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the JCVI is home to approximately 400 scientists and staff with expertise in human and evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics/informatics,
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