RUSL Researchers mapped the first complete genome of Leptospira from Sri Lanka

For the first time in scientific literature, researchers from the Leptospirosis Research laboratory of DoCM were able to map the complete genome of three Leptospira isolates from Sri Lanka. The fully circularized genome of three Leptospira strains: FMAS_KW1, FMAS_KW2 and FMAS_AW1 are now available in gene bank.  These strains were isolated from the suspected leptospirosis patients from Karawanalla and Awissawella.

The paper published in Journal of Genomics (read the full paper here). Notably, one of the the genomes published (FMAS_AW1) is amongst the largest Leptospira genomes reported to date. In addition,  its presumed plasmid, pLiSL1 (approx. size, 130 Kbp), was also identified as the largest known extra-chromosomal Leptospira replicon so far published in gene bank.

Graphical abstract of the paper published in Journal of Genomics

The graphical abstract published in Journal of Genomics.

This paper is a collaborative work included researchers from Rajarata University, University of California, San Diego and Yale University. RUSL researchers were working on leptospirosis since 2009 and the collaborative project was a five year grant funded by the National Institute of Health, USA.

Read more news about ICIDR project work on leptospirosis at RUSL: News 1, News 2, News 3,

Leptospirosis (Mee Una) is one of the most important and deadliest infectious disease in Sri Lanka. The first case of leptospirosis in Sri Lanka was confirmed 1959. Since then, cases of this disease has been reported, mainly from the wet zone of Sri Lanka. In 2008, a major outbreak of leptospirosis was observed in Sri Lanka with a major attention from the global community (Read about Leptospirosis outbreak in Lancet Infectious Disease).

Recent disease estimates of leptospirosis in Sri Lanka shows that the deaths attributed to this disease may be much higher than expected with around 730 deaths per year. The estimated incidence of Leptospirosis is around 50 per 100,000 population. The ongoing work on leptospirosis at DoCM Lepto research lab will help to understand more on this deadly disease to reduce the morbidity and mortality due to leptospirosis in Sri Lanka.


A figure from the disease burden estimates of leptospirosis in Sri Lanka published previously by RUSL researchers. Link

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