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Evolution of Bacterial Pathogens Within the Human Host

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  • Authors: Kimberly A. Bliven1, Anthony T. Maurelli2
  • Editors: Indira T. Kudva3, Nancy A. Cornick4
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814; 2: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814; 3: National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA; 4: Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  • Source: microbiolspec January 2016 vol. 4 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.VMBF-0017-2015
  • Received 23 April 2015 Accepted 14 May 2015 Published 29 January 2016
  • Anthony T. Maurelli, [email protected]
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  • Abstract:

    Selective pressures within the human host, including interactions with innate and adaptive immune responses, exposure to medical interventions such as antibiotics, and competition with commensal microbiota all facilitate the evolution of bacterial pathogens. In this chapter, we present examples of pathogen strategies that emerged as a result of selective pressures within the human host niche and discuss the resulting coevolutionary “arms race” between these organisms. In bacterial pathogens, many of the genes responsible for these strategies are encoded on mobile pathogenicity islands or plasmids, underscoring the importance of horizontal gene transfer in the emergence of virulent microbial species.

  • Citation: Bliven K, Maurelli A. 2016. Evolution of Bacterial Pathogens Within the Human Host. Microbiol Spectrum 4(1):VMBF-0017-2015. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.VMBF-0017-2015.


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Selective pressures within the human host, including interactions with innate and adaptive immune responses, exposure to medical interventions such as antibiotics, and competition with commensal microbiota all facilitate the evolution of bacterial pathogens. In this chapter, we present examples of pathogen strategies that emerged as a result of selective pressures within the human host niche and discuss the resulting coevolutionary “arms race” between these organisms. In bacterial pathogens, many of the genes responsible for these strategies are encoded on mobile pathogenicity islands or plasmids, underscoring the importance of horizontal gene transfer in the emergence of virulent microbial species.

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Examples of pathogenic mechanisms to evade or overcome selective pressures within the human host

Source: microbiolspec January 2016 vol. 4 no. 1 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.VMBF-0017-2015

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