Clemson students name novel Legionella strain: Clemsonensis

The newly named strain of Legionella was part of a batch of 68 strains the CDC sent to Clemson students to analyze.

Clemson University gained a new namesake: Legionella clemsonensis, a novel strain of the Legionella bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the honor of naming L. clemsonensis to students in a collaborative research group called CU and the CDC, which includes students from Clemson's Creative Inquiry (CI) program for undergraduate students and officials in the CDC Legionella lab.

The newly named strain of Legionella was part of a batch of 68 strains the CDC sent to Clemson students to analyze. "While we knew they were Legionella, they didn't match up to anything in the current database of bacterial species. It's like knowing their last name but not their first names," said Tamara McNealy, an associate professor of biological sciences who forged the collaboration with Claressa Lucas, director of the CDC Legionella lab, to characterize unknown Legionella strains.

Undergraduate students in the CU and the CDC - Joseph Painter, Kyle Toth, Kasey Remillard, Rayphael Hardy and Scott Howard - sequenced two genes at the Clemson University Genomics Institute to identify the species or to find out if they were novel. "One of the strains Joseph was assigned turned out to be novel, or not significantly matching anything in the database," McNealy said.

A second wave of students, including Hayley Hassler, now a junior; Allie Palmer, a master's student in McNealy's lab; along with Vince Richards, an assistant professor in the biological sciences department, worked to validate that L. clemsonensis does indeed fall separately from the other known Legionella strains.

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