WASHINGTON – Institutions in the public, private and government sectors announced a collaboration to create a public database of 100,000 foodborne pathogen genomes to help quicken identification of bacteria responsible for foodborne outbreaks.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Univ. of California, Davis, Agilent Technologies Inc. and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will participate in the project, which has been named “The 100K Genome Project” which will be a five-year effort to sequence the genetic code of approximately 100,000 foodborne pathogens and make the information available to the public in a free database. The sequencing will include genomes of Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli.

“This important project will harness the cutting-edge technology of genome sequencing to advance our understanding of and response to foodborne outbreaks,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “FDA is pleased to contribute scientific and technical expertise necessary to create and maintain this foodborne pathogen database which will be fully accessible and have long-lasting impact on protecting public health."

The FDA is providing more than 500 finished Salmonella whole-genome draft sequences, thousands of additional important food pathogen strains for sequencing, and bioinformatic support. FDA scientists also will help guide the project and provide technical assistance when needed. Agilent is providing scientific expertise, instrumentation, and funding to support a portion of UC Davis activities. The CDC will provide its foodborne disease expertise, strains to be sequenced and other information for use in the project. CDC experts will also serve on the steering committee for the project.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will also participate in the project.

"This initiative shows great promise as we look to improve our ability to identify and track down potential sources of foodborne outbreaks,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “FSIS intends to submit important bacterial strains from our regulatory testing program for sequencing at UC Davis, and we look forward to the benefits this public database could provide federal, state and local public health agencies."

The genomic sequencing will be coordinated by UC Davis will coordinate the genomic sequencing. The university is also providing access to its collection of bacteria samples. The sequencing will be performed at the BGI@UC Davis genome sequencing facility.