All-Seeing Mystery

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Science  19 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6130, pp. 250
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6130.250-c

Nematode worms can infect a variety of tissues in humans; for example, apart from disconcertingly migrating across the eyeball on occasion, the African eyeworm Loa loa can cause neurological and heart pathologies. L. loa is a filarial worm, vectored by a biting fly and related to the worms that cause river blindness and elephantiasis. Unlike those species, L. loa does not possess the endosymbiont bacterium Wolbachia, which is the target of the antibiotics that are important treatments for these other parasites. Desjardins et al. have redressed a genome sequence gap and in a comparative study explored the nature of the apparently obligatory relationship between those filarial worms that have the endosymbiont and L. loa, which does not. It seems the eyeworm is very similar to other filariae to the extent that it (and they) possesses the metabolic pathways that previously were thought to be contributed by the endosymbiont. Contrarily, this new genome sequence is less revelatory than expected, instead restoring the symbiotic role played by Wolbachia in filarial nematodes to one of subtle mystery.

Nat. Genet. 45, 10.1038/ng.2585 (2013).

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