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Chapter 1 : Overview
Helicobacter pylori has been the subject of intense investigation since its culture from a gastric biopsy in 1982. The bacteriology of the microaerophilic spiral-shaped bacterium is fascinating. H. pylori is a member of a rapidly growing genus. New species are being isolated at a fast rate from many vertebrate hosts. Cogent explanations of the adaptation of H. pylori to the gastric environment and the regulation of its physiology by environmental factors are given for a substantial body of experimental knowledge by placing it in the framework of the genome of the organism. Survival and proliferation depend intrinsically on the flux of nutrients. The diversity of H. pylori is made clear in the discussion of pathways related to cell structure and function, which relates its unique murein with the ability of the bacterium to colonize its niche. Mutagenesis is straightforward, and it is relatively easy to construct a double-crossover allelic exchange mutant. H. pylori can colonize its human host for life. It is therefore well adapted for life in the stomach. In summary, the authors are approaching 20 years of research on a bacterium proven to be the cause of gastritis and indisputably correlated with the development of peptic ulcers and the progression to cancer.