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Molecular epidemiology of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. suis in Austrian pig herds

Pneumocystis (P.) spp. are a group of highly diversified opportunistic fungi which are adapted to the lungs of a large variety of mammals. High numbers of Pneumocystis carriers have been described in rats and humans, but also in preliminary studies of pigs prevalences between 51% in pigs with pneumonia and 73% in pigs without respiratory disorders were observed. In humans, Pneumocystis colonization has several potentially important clinical effects as development of acute pneumonia, transmission to other hosts, or involvement in the progression of certain lung diseases as cofactor. As different age classes of pigs may be kept together in a single facility and thus share the same microbiological environment, these animals are predisposed to polymicrobially caused diseases and in modern pig production systems respiratory disorders pose one of the main health problems. Preliminary data have shown that Pneumocystis can essentially contribute to polymicrobially caused respiratory diseases and in case of infections especially of young pigs the economic impact can be quite high, because developmental deficits early in life can hardly be compensated for.Currently, the genomic landscape of P. carinii f. sp. suis (referred as P. suis in this proposal) is almost completely unknown. Whole genome sequencing of P. suis will reveal its genome content and structure, and metabolic and other biological pathways, and provide insights into its unique characteristics compared to other Pneumocystis species. This work will contribute to a better understanding of the disease process and pathogenesis of Pneumocystis pneumonia in pigs, and potentially guide the development of new strategies for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Studies of P. jirovecii in humans have shown that fungal loads depend on the respective co-infections and as a matter of fact differ significantly between P. jirovecii genotypes. High-throughput sequencing coupled with single nucleotid polymorphism and multilocus sequence typing analyses as we are proposing in this project will provide an excellent opportunity to examine if P. suis genotypes are associated with P. suis organism loads, pig’s ages, clinical signs and co-infections and to study the P. suis epidemiology in Austrian pig herds.
Molekulare Epidemiologie von Pneumocystis carinii
Project leader
Weissenbacher-Lang Christiane
FWF Einzelprojekte
Type of Research
Basic research
Vetmed Research Units
Institute of Pathology
University Clinic for Swine
Projekt partner
Contact: Liang Ma, Ousmane Cissé
National Institute of Health, Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD, United States (USA)
Funded by
FWF - Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria

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