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June 1, 2016: FDA International Genome Trakr Network Expanding Internationally

Genome Trakr

In the effort to find and resolve food poisoning outbreaks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created an international network of laboratories which can gather the data necessary to sequence the genomes of foodborne pathogens, the infective agent that causes food poisoning. Using this network, called the GenomeTrakr database, labs upload the pathogen’s genetic sequence, as well as information about where the pathogen was gathered. This helps the health agencies to connect pathogens over multiple outbreaks in order to find the common source.

Food Poisoning Pathogens

Foodborne pathogens have millions of different genomes, or sequences of genetic code. Food poisoning can be caused by a host of pathogens, such as:

  • Listeria


  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Shigella
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph)
  • Hepatitis A

The GenomeTrakr Network

As Marc W. Allard, Ph.D., a senior biomedical research services officer in the Division of Microbiology, explains, “As the size of the database grows, so will its strength as a tool to help focus and speed investigations into the root cause of illnesses.”

The GenomeTrakr database is quickly growing. “Currently, we’re sequencing more than 1,000 isolates a month,” Allard says, adding that in 2016, the GenomeTrakr‘s most significant growth will come from data submitted by countries outside of the United States.


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