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Concept: Pathogen


Bacterial pathogens have evolved a wide range of strategies to colonize and invade human organs, despite the presence of multiple host defense mechanisms. In this review, we will describe how pathogenic bacteria can adhere and multiply at the surface of host cells, how some bacteria can enter and proliferate inside these cells, and finally how pathogens may cross epithelial or endothelial host barriers and get access to internal tissues, leading to severe diseases in humans.

Concepts: Immune system, Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Chromosome, Pathogen, Human anatomy, Pathogenic bacteria


Emerging infectious diseases are a key threat to wildlife. Several fungal skin pathogens have recently emerged and caused widespread mortality in several vertebrate groups, including amphibians, bats, rattlesnakes and humans. White-nose syndrome, caused by the fungal skin pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans, threatens several hibernating bat species with extinction and there are few effective treatment strategies. The skin microbiome is increasingly understood to play a large role in determining disease outcome. We isolated bacteria from the skin of four bat species, and co-cultured these isolates with P. destructans to identify bacteria that might inhibit or kill P. destructans. We then conducted two reciprocal challenge experiments in vitro with six bacterial isolates (all in the genus Pseudomonas) to quantify the effect of these bacteria on the growth of P. destructans. All six Pseudomonas isolates significantly inhibited growth of P. destructans compared to non-inhibitory control bacteria, and two isolates performed significantly better than others in suppressing P. destructans growth for at least 35 days. In both challenge experiments, the extent of suppression of P. destructans growth was dependent on the initial concentration of P. destructans and the initial concentration of the bacterial isolate. These results show that bacteria found naturally occurring on bats can inhibit the growth of P. destructans in vitro and should be studied further as a possible probiotic to protect bats from white-nose syndrome. In addition, the presence of these bacteria may influence disease outcomes among individuals, populations, and species.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Evolution, Microbiology, Infection, Pathogen, Mammal


Respiratory infectious diseases are mainly caused by viruses or bacteria that often interact with one another. Although their presence is a prerequisite for subsequent infections, viruses and bacteria may be present in the nasopharynx without causing any respiratory symptoms. The upper respiratory tract hosts a vast range of commensals and potential pathogenic bacteria, which form a complex microbial community. This community is assumed to be constantly subject to synergistic and competitive interspecies interactions. Disturbances in the equilibrium, for instance due to the acquisition of new bacteria or viruses, may lead to overgrowth and invasion. A better understanding of the dynamics between commensals and pathogens in the upper respiratory tract may provide better insight into the pathogenesis of respiratory diseases. Here we review the current knowledge regarding specific bacterial-bacterial and viral-bacterial interactions that occur in the upper respiratory niche, and discuss mechanisms by which these interactions might be mediated. Finally, we propose a theoretical model to summarize and illustrate these mechanisms.

Concepts: Immune system, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Microbiology, Infection, Pathogen, Respiratory system, Pathogenic bacteria


Finding bacterial cellular targets for developing novel antibiotics has become a major challenge in fighting resistant pathogenic bacteria. We present a novel compound, Relacin, designed to inhibit (p)ppGpp production by the ubiquitous bacterial enzyme RelA that triggers the Stringent Response. Relacin inhibits RelA in vitro and reduces (p)ppGpp production in vivo. Moreover, Relacin affects entry into stationary phase in Gram positive bacteria, leading to a dramatic reduction in cell viability. When Relacin is added to sporulating Bacillus subtilis cells, it strongly perturbs spore formation regardless of the time of addition. Spore formation is also impeded in the pathogenic bacterium Bacillus anthracis that causes the acute anthrax disease. Finally, the formation of multicellular biofilms is markedly disrupted by Relacin. Thus, we establish that Relacin, a novel ppGpp analogue, interferes with bacterial long term survival strategies, placing it as an attractive new antibacterial agent.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Pathogen, Bacillus, Antibiotic, Pathogenic bacteria, Anthrax, Bacteriology


ABSTRACT Dermatophytes are a uniquely pathogenic group of fungi that cause most common fungal infections globally. The major cause of athlete’s foot is Trichophyton rubrum, a pathogen of human skin. A recent paper in this journal reported the sequencing and analysis of five additional genome sequences, including that of Trichophyton rubrum. These five join the existing two additional genome sequences to bring the total to seven dermatophyte genome sequences, a notable milestone in the study of these fungi. These additional genomes set the stage for future genome-supported studies on the biology, pathogenicity, and host specificity of this important group of pathogens. To predict how this future might play out, we review the history of Aspergillus genomics since the initial publication of the first three Aspergillus genome sequences in 2005, an event that stimulated important studies of the pathogenic Aspergillus species. From these 7 years of Aspergillus history, we offer some speculation on the future of dermatophyte studies supported by the genome sequences given the similarities, differences, and relative levels of support for studies in these two groups of fungi and the diseases they cause.

Concepts: Gene, Bacteria, Future, Pathogen, Trichophyton rubrum, Onychomycosis, Dermatophyte, Fungal diseases


Microbial communities associated with agricultural animals are important for animal health, food safety, and public health. Here we combine high-throughput sequencing (HTS), quantitative-PCR assays, and network analysis to profile the poultry-associated microbiome and important pathogens at various stages of commercial poultry production from the farm to the consumer. Analysis of longitudinal data following two flocks from the farm through processing showed a core microbiome containing multiple sequence types most closely related to genera known to be pathogenic for animals and/or humans, including , and . After the final stage of commercial poultry processing, taxonomic richness was ca. 2-4 times lower than the richness of fecal samples from the same flocks and abundance was significantly reduced. Interestingly, however, carcasses sampled at 48 hr after processing harboured the greatest proportion of unique taxa (those not encountered in other samples), significantly more than expected by chance. Among these were anaerobes such as , , , and multiple sequence types. Retail products were dominated by , but also contained 27 other genera, most of which were potentially metabolically active and encountered in on-farm samples. Network analysis was focused on the foodborne pathogen and revealed a majority of sequence types with no significant interactions with other taxa, perhaps explaining the limited efficacy of previous attempts at competitive exclusion of . These data represent the first use of HTS to characterize the poultry microbiome across a series of farm-to-fork samples and demonstrate the utility of HTS in monitoring the food supply chain and identifying sources of potential zoonoses and interactions among taxa in complex communities.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Food, Pathogen, Sequence, Foodborne illness, Poultry farming, Poultry


BACKGROUND: The intentional release of Bacillus anthracis in the United States in 2001 has heightened concern about the use of pathogenic microorganisms in bioterrorism attacks. Many of the deadliest bacteria, including the Class A Select Agents Bacillus anthracis, Francisella tularensis, and Yersinia pestis, are highly infectious via the pulmonary route when released in aerosolized form. Hence, rapid, sensitive, and reliable methods for detection of these biothreats and characterization of their potential impact on the exposed population are of critical importance to initiate and support rapid military, public health, and clinical responses. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We have developed microfluidic multiplexed PCR and sequencing assays based on the simultaneous interrogation of three pathogens per assay and ten loci per pathogen. Microfluidic separation of amplified fluorescently labeled fragments generated characteristic electrophoretic signatures for identification of each agent. The three sets of primers allowed significant strain typing and discrimination from non-pathogenic closely-related species and environmental background strains based on amplicon sizes alone. Furthermore, sequencing of the 10 amplicons per pathogen, termed “Rapid Focused Sequencing,” allowed an even greater degree of strain discrimination and, in some cases, can be used to determine virulence. Both amplification and sequencing assays were performed in microfluidic biochips developed for fast thermal cycling and requiring 7 µL per reaction. The 30-plex sequencing assay resulted in genotypic resolution of 84 representative strains belonging to each of the three biothreat species. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The microfluidic multiplexed assays allowed identification and strain differentiation of the biothreat agents Bacillus anthracis, Francisella tularensis, and Yersinia pestis and clear discrimination from closely-related species and several environmental background strains. The assays may be extended to detect a large number of pathogens, are applicable to the evaluation of both environmental and clinical samples, and have the potential to be applied in military, public health, and clinical diagnostic settings.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Vaccination, Pathogen, Bacillus, Yersinia pestis, Francisella tularensis, Bacillus anthracis


Sexual arousal is a motivational state that moves humans toward situations that inherently pose a risk of disease transmission. Disgust is an emotion that adaptively moves humans away from such situations. Incongruent is the fact that sexual activity is elementary to human fitness yet involves strong disgust elicitors. Using an experimental paradigm, we investigated how these two states interact. Women (final N=76) were assigned to one of four conditions: rate disgust stimuli then watch a pornographic clip; watch a pornographic clip then rate disgust stimuli; rate fear stimuli then watch a pornographic clip; or watch a pornographic clip then rate fear stimuli. Women’s genital sexual arousal was measured with vaginal photoplethysmography and their disgust and fear reactions were measured via self-report. We did not find that baseline disgust propensity predicted sexual arousal in women who were exposed to neutral stimuli before erotic content. In the Erotic-before-Disgust condition we did not find that sexual arousal straightforwardly predicted decreased image disgust ratings. However, we did find some evidence that sexual arousal increased self-reported disgust in women with high trait disgust and sexual arousal decreased self-reported disgust in women with low trait disgust. Women who were exposed to disgusting images before erotic content showed significantly less sexual arousal than women in the control condition or women exposed to fear-inducing images before erotic content. In the Disgust-before-Erotic condition the degree of self-reported disgust was negatively correlated with genital sexual arousal. Hence, in the conflict between the ultimate goals of reproduction and disease avoidance, cues of the presence of pathogens significantly reduce the motivation to engage in mating behaviors that, by their nature, entail a risk of pathogen transmission.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Pathogen, Human sexuality, Erotica, Human behavior, Paul Ekman, Sexual arousal, Robert Plutchik


BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to optimize quantitative (real-time) polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays for 8 major periodontal pathogens, i.e. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Parvimonas micros, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Tanerella forsythia and Treponema denticola, and of the caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans. RESULTS: Eighteen different primer pairs were analyzed in silico regarding specificity (using BLAST analysis) and the presence of secondary structures at primer binding sites (using mFOLD). The most specific and efficiently binding primer pairs, according to these analyses, were selected for qPCR-analysis to determine amplification efficiency, limit of quantification and intra-run reproducibility. For the selected primer pairs, one for each species, the specificity was confirmed by assessing amplification of DNA extracts from isolates of closely related species. For these primer pairs, the intercycler portability was evaluated on 3 different thermal cyclers (the Applied Biosystems 7300, the Bio-Rad iQ5 and the Roche Light Cycler 480). For all assays on the different cyclers, a good correlation of the standard series was obtained (i.e. r2 >= 0.98), but quantification limits varied among cyclers. The overall best quantification limit was obtained by using a 2 mul sample in a final volume of 10 mul on the Light Cycler 480. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, the proposed assays allow to quantify the bacterial loads of S. mutans, 6 periodontal pathogenic species and the genus Fusobacterium.This can be of use in assessing periodontal risk, determination of the optimal periodontal therapy and evaluation of this treatment.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Polymerase chain reaction, Microbiology, Pathogen, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, Oral microbiology


Many Gram-negative plant pathogenic bacteria employ a N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-based quorum sensing (QS) system to regulate their virulence traits. A sustainable biocontrol strategy has been developed using quorum quenching (QQ) bacteria to interfere with QS and protect plants from pathogens. Here, the prevalence and the diversity of QQ strains inhabiting tobacco leaf surfaces were explored. A total of 1177 leaf-associated isolates were screened for their ability to disrupt AHL-mediated QS, using the biosensor Chromobacterium violaceum CV026. One hundred and sixty-eight strains (14%) are capable of interfering with AHL activity. Among these, 106 strains (63%) of the culturable quenchers can enzymatically degrade AHL molecules, while the remaining strains might use other QS inhibitors to interrupt the chemical communication. Moreover, almost 79% of the QQ strains capable of inactivating AHLs enzymatically have lactonase activity. Further phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rDNA revealed that the leaf-associated QQ bacteria can be classified as Bacillus sp., Acinetobacter sp., Lysinibacillus sp., Serratia sp., Pseudomonas sp., and Myroides sp. The naturally occurring diversity of bacterial quenchers might provide opportunities to use them as effective biocontrol reagents for suppressing plant pathogen in situ.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pathogen, Cell wall, Biofilm, Quorum sensing, Pathogenic bacteria