Was it anthrax? If so, was it a genetically engineered bioterrorism strain, or a strain that normally lives in the soil? How dangerous was it?
And the answers, Dr. Musser realized, could come very quickly from newly available technology that would allow investigators to determine the entire genome sequence of the suspect micro-organism.
It is the start of a new age in microbiology, Dr. Musser and others say. And the sort of molecular epidemiology he and his colleagues wanted to do is only a small part of it. New methods of quickly sequencing entire microbial genomes are revolutionizing the field.