In 1995, became the first free-living organism to have its entire genome sequence published. Since then, many similar projects have been started and, by the millennium, the genomes of a significant number of important human pathogens will have been sequenced. During this period of increasing access to microbial sequence data, parallel advances have occurred in techniques that allow the large-scale study of the entire genetic complement of micro-organisms. In the near future, these approaches will enable researchers to unravel further the complexity of microbial pathogenesis and identify new virulence determinants. Many of these will be suitable targets for development as diagnostic reagents, antimicrobial agents and vaccine candidates. Although it is difficult to predict the full impact that this almost overwhelming volume of information will have on the practice of microbiology, it is clear that it will result ultimately in new ways of diagnosing and combating infectious diseases.


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