In a recent study by researchers from ILRI, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and partners in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA evaluated the history and relationships of pathogens that cause both cattle (contagious bovine pleuropneumonia) and goat (contagious caprine pleuropneumonia) pneumonia.
The study, ‘The origin of the “Mycoplasma mycoides cluster” coincides with domestication of ruminants,’ was published in the April 2012 edition of the Public Library of Science (PLoS, 27 Apr 2012). The researchers found that the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides, which causes contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, arose at the same time as humans first started to domesticate wild ruminants.
The onset of domestication of livestock about 10,000 years ago, which established large ruminant populations and the herding of mixed species, is thought to have contributed to creating the conditions favouring the spread and diversification of the pathogens by allowing them to adapt to different hosts.
Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia can kill up to 80% of animals in infected herds, and the surviving animals often carry the disease for long periods and can introduce it to uninfected herds.
Joerg Jores, a molecular biologist who took part in the research stated that it had been the largest comparative study of Mycoplasma mycoides cluster to date. Their findings were shedding light into the history of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and this new knowledge was expected to guide future research into the disease.