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First report on the molecular identification of the phytoplasma associated with a lethal yellowing-type disease of coconut palms in Côte d’Ivoire

Published: August 8th, 2013

Revised: July 21st, 2014

Abstract

Cocos nucifera is considered the most important crop along the coastal belt of West Africa. Particularly in Côte d’Ivoire, coconut palm is cultivated on approximately 50,000 ha and produces an average of 45,000 tonnes of copra per year, which represents the main source of income for people living in the coastal region. Lethal yellowing (LY)-type diseases affecting coconut and other palm species worldwide have mostly been associated with phytoplasma strains of group 16SrIV ‘Coconut lethal yellows’. However, LY-type diseases like Cape St Paul wilt in Ghana (CSPW), the “maladie de Kaincopé” in Togo and Awka disease (Lethal Decline, LD) in Nigeria, previously included in 16SrIV group have been recently classified as a new group 16SrXXII. LY-type disease has quickly developed among coconut palms in the Grand-Lahou in Côte d’Ivoire, currently affecting more than 7000 hectares. We present the first report on the molecular identification of the phytoplasma associated with a lethal yellowing-type disease of coconut palms in Cote d’Ivoire.

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Infant gut microbiota and the hygiene hypothesis of allergic disease: impact of household pets and siblings on microbiota composition and diversity

Published: June 5th, 2013

Revised: July 21st, 2014

Background:

Multiple studies have demonstrated that early-life exposure to pets or siblings affords protection against allergic disease; these associations are commonly attributed to the “hygiene hypothesis”. Recently, low diversity of the infant gut microbiota has also been linked to allergic disease. In this study, we characterize the infant gut microbiota in relation to pets and siblings.

Methods:

The study population comprised a small sub-sample of 24 healthy, full term infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort. Mothers reported on household pets and siblings. Fecal samples were collected at 4 months of age, and microbiota composition was characterized by high-throughput signature gene sequencing.

Results:

Microbiota richness and diversity tended to be increased in infants living with pets, whereas these measures were decreased in infants with older siblings. Infants living with pets exhibited under-representation of Bifidobacteriaceae and over-representation of Peptostreptococcaceae; infants with older siblings exhibited under-representation of Peptostreptococcaceae.

Conclusions:

This study provides new evidence that exposure to pets and siblings may influence the early development of the gut microbiota, with potential implications for allergic disease. These two traditionally protective “hygiene hypothesis” factors appear to differentially impact gut microbiota composition and diversity, calling into question the clinical significance of these measures. Further research is required to confirm and expand these findings.

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Pets & Microbes on Daily Planet

Published: May 1st, 2013

Revised: February 3rd, 2014

Pets & Microbes on Daily PlanetTune in to Daily Planet April 30th, 2013 at 7 PM EDT on the Discovery Channel to watch our Sporometrics guys swabbing pets and people to find out how much of our microbiome we share with our companion creatures.

The segment, hosted by microbiologist and puppy enthusiast Dr. Jennifer Gardy from BCCDC, will feature our dogs, Aurora and Rawley, Dr. Richard Summerbell’s dog Fleefus (the best-behaved) and our protesting kitten, Tunafish Betty, along with Richard himself, Yordanka Guardiola and (a very reluctant) Ed Hollis.

Everyone had a blast, particularly the dogs. And even after a day of dog slobber, our hands remained surprisingly free of microbes!

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Quebec City Legionnaires outbreak

Published: March 24th, 2013

Revised: March 24th, 2013

In the summer of 2012, a significant outbreak of Legionnaires Disease occurred in Quebec City resulting in 181 cases and 13 deaths.

This week, the CBC’s premier French language investigative documentary program, L’Enquête, examined the public health response to the outbreak. L’Enquête spoke with Dr. Scott to learn about Legionella and the issues around its management.

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Gut bacteria in babies

Published: February 11th, 2013

Revised: February 11th, 2013

In a study just published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Dr. James Scott and colleagues at the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta and elsewhere investigated the bacterial make-up of faeces from 24 three-month-old babies and found that the way the babies were delivered (vaginal or C-section) and whether the babies are breast-fed has a significant effect on the microbes in their guts.

“Our findings are particularly timely given the recent affirmation of the gut microbiota as a “super organ” with diverse roles in health and disease, and the increasing concern over rising cesarean delivery and insufficient exclusive breastfeeding in Canada”, said Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, who along with Dr. Scott are the principal investigators on the project.

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