Palma, Mar 7 (EFE).- Scientists from the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) and the Biolinea company, together with specialists from other European entities, have discovered a species of legionella in Mallorca, named Legionella Maioricenseiswhich is the first new type of this bacterium to be described in Spain.
The UIB Microbiology group has reported this Monday that researchers from the Biolinea health laboratory, the Rotger Clinic in Palma, and universities, hospitals and health organizations from the Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have also participated in the discovery. .
The company Biolinea Int. isolated the bacterium in a routine sampling at a Majorcan hospital in 2012 and, although it did not identify it as a new species, it did consider this possibility due to some of its characteristics.
The specialists learned later that a Czech laboratory had found a strain of legionella with similar traits in a sample in a supermarket, so contacts began to cooperate in the investigation.
The partial genetic sequencing analyzes confirmed the suspicion that a new species of the battery had been found, results that were presented at a congress held in Athens in 2019.
But the covid-19 pandemic halted the investigation and it was not until last year that the Legionella Maioricenseis could be characterized and definitively identified as a new species of its genus.
The scientific director of Biolinea Int., Sebastià Crespí, first signatory of the article published in the “International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology”, has explained that there is no evidence that the discovered bacterium has caused infections in humans although, at least in theory, “could cause them.”
Comparative analysis of its genome reveals that it has “a considerable number of virulence factors” and there are indications that it could be resistant to antibiotics such as penicillins, among others.
“The discovery of this new species of legionella represents an important advance in the knowledge of the diversity of populations of the bacterium and contributes to the effort of the scientific community to clarify the gaps that still exist regarding its pathogenic potential”, highlight those responsible for the finding. .
Up to now, 65 species of legionella have been described in the world, of which the Legionella pneumophila It is the cause of 90% of the cases of legionellosis, a potentially fatal respiratory disease for one in ten infected.
The sources of infection are mainly drinking water systems, sanitary hot water and cooling towers that are conducive to the development of the bacteria.
In recent years, Legionella species linked to other environments have been discovered, such as the Letionella antarcticaisolated in sediments from a freshwater lake in Antarctica, which is the genetically closest variant to that of Majorca.
The co-author of the article, the UIB researcher Antoni Bennàsar, has emphasized the importance of continuing to broaden knowledge about legionella, “an opportunistic pathogen of concern for health”.