Researchers Use Machine Learning to Detect Pathogenic Bacteria in Cattle


A team of researchers has found a new way to detect dangerous strains of bacteria, potentially preventing outbreaks of food poisoning. The team developed a method that utilizes machine learning and tested it with isolates of Escherichia coli strains. The details are in a paper that was just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Most strains of Escherichia coli are harmless and naturally found in the human body. There are pathogenic strains, however, and they are a rising health concern.

The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh) - News


Machine learning can predict strains of bacteria likely to cause food poisoning outbreaks, research has found. The study – which focused on harmful strains of E. coli bacteria – could help public health officials to target interventions and reduce risk to human health. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute used software that compares genetic information from bacterial samples isolated from both animals and people. The software learns the DNA signatures that are associated with E. coli samples that have caused outbreaks of infection in people. It can then pick out the animal strains that have these signatures, which are therefore likely to be a threat to human health.

artificial intelligence


Tonya Riley of Inverse reports that artificial intelligence is already well on its way to being the future of food service, but what if it could also do things like prevent foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli? Researchers at University of Edinburgh say they've designed software to do just that. The A.I. compares the genetic signatures of E. coli samples that have caused infection in humans to bacterial samples from humans and animals. The technology will allow researchers to identify deadly strains of E. coli before the threat becomes an outbreak. "Our findings indicate that the most dangerous E. coli O157 strains may in fact be very rare in the cattle reservoir, which is reassuring," University of Edinburgh Professor David Gally said in a press release.

Penguins pick up bugs from tourists according to new research

Daily Mail

Bird populations in Antarctica could be be wiped out tourists who are passing on bacteria to penguins and other creatures. The study found strains of bacteria linked to humans, including antibiotic resistant microbes and DNA from a bacterium which causes food poisoning. 'Reverse zoonosis', which means human-to-animal disease transmission, has been seen on every continent except isolated Antarctica - until now. Experts fear that these disease causing pathogens will have devastating consequences for all Antarctic species, some of which are endangered. A rise in the numbers in tourism may have led to penguins in the Antarctica picking up bugs from the visiting humans, according to new research.

Bacteria resistant to a last-resort drug showed up on a US pig farm

Popular Science

Bacteria carrying a gene that grants resistance against a powerful antibiotic have been found on a pig farm in the United States, researchers reported this week in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. The rare gene helps bacteria thwart carbapenems, a class of antibiotics used to fight germs that have already become resistant to other drugs. It was located on pieces of DNA called plasmids, which can be swapped between species. This is the first time that bacteria with transmissible carbapenem resistance have shown up in US livestock. The good news is that these germs (a group known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE) didn't appear in any of the poop samples taken from pigs scheduled for slaughter.