Mycoplasma Genome Projects

The Center of Excellence for Vaccine Research (CEVR) has a strong research focus on the fundamental biology of Mycoplasma pathogens of animals of agricultural importance.

Mycoplasma gallisepticum is the etiologic agent of Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD), a pathological syndrome which causes an estimated $700 million annual loss to the U.S. poultry industry (Carpenter et al., 1981; Johnson et al., 1981; Lancaster and Fabricant, 1988; Mohammed et al., 1987a; Mohammed et al., 1987b; Stipkovits and Kempf, 1996). The National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP) was established in the 1960's to set guidelines for control of M. gallisepticum and lessen its economic impact (Lancaster and Fabricant, 1988). Furthermore, an ARS/CSREES National Animal Health Program Planning Workshop was held in September 2005, at which time M. gallisepticum was ranked among the top three priority issues affecting the U.S. poultry layer industry.

Mycoplasma gallisepticum emerged in 1994 as a cause of conjunctivitis in free-ranging house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States (Ley et al., 1997; Fischer et al., 1997). The ensuing epizootic produced a dramatic decline in eastern house finch populations. Over the past 13 years, M. gallisepticum conjunctivitis has become an endemic disease in house finch populations, spreading rapidly throughout the U.S. (Cherry et al., 2006; Duckworth et al., 2003; Ley, 2006 et al.; Dhondt, 2006). For more information about the M. gallisepticum epizootic in house finches visit the House Finch Disease Survey.

Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides Small Colony is the etiologic agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumoniae (CBPP). Although eradicated from the United States in 1892, CBPP is an economically significant disease of cattle and is classified as a high consequence livestock pathogen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and as a list A disease by the International Office of Epizootics (OIE).

To better understand the basic molecular biology of Mycoplasmas, CEVR has developed multiple Mycoplasma Genome Projects. To date, these projects have resulted in the complete sequencing of four Mycoplasma genomes of agricultural importance. The information displayed on these pages represents the on-going work associated with these projects.


Mycoplasma genomes

Mycoplasma gallisepticum strain R(low)

Mycoplasma gallisepticum strain R(high)

Mycoplasma gallisepticum strain F

Mycoplasma gallisepticum strains associated with an epizootic in the House Finch

Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides Small Colony strain Shawawa/Nokaneng





Carpenter, T. E., E. T. Mallinson, K. F. Miller, R. F. Gentry, and L. D. Schwartz. 1981. Vaccination with F-strain Mycoplasma gallisepticum to reduce production losses in layer chickens. Avian Dis 25: 404-9.

Dhondt, A. A., A. V. Badyaev, A. P. Dobson, D. M. Hawley, M. J. L. Driscoll, W. M. Hochachka, and D. H. Ley. 2006. Dynamics of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis in the native and introduced range of the host. EcoHealth 3: 95-102.

Duckworth, R. A., A. V. Badyaev, K. L. Farmer, G. E. Hill, and S. R. Roberts. 2003. First case of Mycoplasma gallisepticum infection in the western range of the House Finch ( Carpodacus mexicanus ). Auk 120: 528-530.

Fischer, J. R., D. E. Stallknecht, P. Luttrell, A. A. Dhondt, and K. A. Converse. 1997. Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis in wild songbirds: the spread of a new contagious disease in a mobile host population. Emerg Infect Dis 3: 69-72.

Johnson, D. C., W. H. Emory, S. H. Kleven, and D. E. Stallknecht. 1981. A Mycoplasma gallisepticum epornitic in turkeys: its epidemiology and eradication. Avian Dis 25: 1047-52.

Lancaster, J. E., and J. Fabricant. 1988. The history of avian medicine in the United States. IX. Events in the history of avian mycoplasmosis 1905-70. Avian Dis 32: 607-23.

Ley, D. H., J. E. Berkhoff, and S. Levisohn. 1997. Molecular epidemiologic investigations of Mycoplasma gallisepticum conjunctivitis in songbirds by random amplified polymorphic DNA analyses. Emerg Infect Dis 3: 375-80.

Ley, D. H., D. S. Sheaffer, and A. A. Dhondt. 2006. Further western spread of Mycoplasma gallisepticum infection of house finches. J Wildl Dis 42: 429-31.

Mohammed, H. O., T. E. Carpenter, and R. Yamamoto. 1987a. Evaluation of factors associated with infection of commercial layers with Mycoplasma gallisepticum and M. synoviae . Avian Diseases 31: 470-476.

Mohammed, H. O., T. E. Carpenter, and R. Yamamoto. 1987b. Economic impact of Mycoplasma gallisepticum and M. synoviae in commercial layer flocks. Avian Dis 31: 477-82.

Papazisi, L., T. S. Gorton, G. Kutish, P. F. Markham, G. F. Browning, D. K. Nguyen, S. Swartzell, A. Madan, G. Mahairas, and S. J. Geary. 2003. The complete genome sequence of the avian pathogen Mycoplasma gallisepticum strain R low. Microbiology 149: 2307-2316.

Stipkovits, L., and I. Kempf. 1996. Mycoplasmoses in poultry. Rev Sci Tech 15: 1495-525.