Species of are the etiologic agent of endemic blinding trachoma, the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, significant respiratory pathogens, and a zoonotic threat. Their dependence on an intracellular growth niche and their peculiar developmental cycle are major challenges to elucidating their biology and virulence traits. The last decade has seen tremendous advances in our ability to perform a molecular genetic analysis of species. Major achievements include the generation of large collections of mutant strains, now available for forward- and reverse-genetic applications, and the introduction of a system for plasmid-based transformation enabling complementation of mutations; expression of foreign, modified, or reporter genes; and even targeted gene disruptions. This review summarizes the current status of the molecular genetic toolbox for species and highlights new insights into their biology and new challenges in the nascent field of genetics.


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