Microbial Forensics--"Cross-Examining Pathogens"

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Science  14 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5575, pp. 1976-1979
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073125

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An impressive demonstration of DNA polymorphism detection and analysis by genomic comparison of two Bacillus anthracis strains reveals the potential power of microbial forensics ( Read et al.). In this Perspective, Cummings and Relman discuss how detecting molecular variations between related microbial strains can be used to infer the origin and transmission route of a microbial strain that has caused an infectious disease outbreak either naturally or through manipulation as a bioweapon.