Persistent Strain of Cholera Defends Itself Against Forces of Change, Scientists Find

New clues to longstanding mystery about the longest-running cholera epidemic

A deadly strain of cholera bacteria that emerged in Indonesia back in 1961 continues to spread widely to this day, claiming thousands of lives around the world every year, sickening millions — and, with its persistence, baffling scientists. Finally, in a study published on May 13, 2024 in Nature, researchers from The University of Texas (UT) at Austin have discovered how this dangerous strain has held out over decades. The article is titled “Plasmid Targeting and Destruction by the DdmDE Bacterial Defence System.” A longstanding mystery about the strain of Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae) responsible for the seventh global cholera pandemic is how this lineage has managed to out-compete other pathogenic variants. The UT team identified a unique quirk of the bacteria’s immune system that protects the bacteria from a key driver of bacterial evolution.
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