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Concept: Pathogenic bacteria


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


Periodontitis, one of the most common diseases in the world, is caused by a mixture of pathogenic bacteria and inflammatory host responses and often treated by antimicrobials as an adjunct to scaling and root planing (SRP). Our study aims to elucidate explorative and descriptive temporal shifts in bacterial communities between patients treated by SRP alone versus SRP plus antibiotics. This is the first metagenomic study using an Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (PGM). Eight subgingival plaque samples from four patients with chronic periodontitis, taken before and two months after intervention were analyzed. Amplicons from the V6 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene were generated and sequenced each on a 314 chip. Sequencing reads were clustered into operational taxonomic units (OTUs, 3% distance), described by community metrics, and taxonomically classified. Reads ranging from 599,933 to 650,416 per sample were clustered into 1,648 to 2,659 non-singleton OTUs, respectively. Increased diversity (Shannon and Simpson) in all samples after therapy was observed regardless of the treatment type whereas richness (ACE) showed no correlation. Taxonomic analysis revealed different microbial shifts between both therapy approaches at all taxonomic levels. Most remarkably, the genera Porphyromonas, Tannerella, Treponema, and Filifactor all harboring periodontal pathogenic species were removed almost only in the group treated with SPR and antibiotics. For the species T. forsythia and P. gingivalis results were corroborated by real-time PCR analysis. In the future, hypothesis free metagenomic analysis could be the key in understanding polymicrobial diseases and be used for therapy monitoring. Therefore, as read length continues to increase and cost to decrease, rapid benchtop sequencers like the PGM might finally be used in routine diagnostic.

Concepts: DNA, Archaea, Bacteria, Microbiology, Ribosomal RNA, Biotechnology, 16S ribosomal RNA, Pathogenic bacteria


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


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


High proportions of autistic children suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, implying a link between autism and abnormalities in gut microbial functions. Increasing evidence from recent high-throughput sequencing analyses indicates that disturbances in composition and diversity of gut microbiome are associated with various disease conditions. However, microbiome-level studies on autism are limited and mostly focused on pathogenic bacteria. Therefore, here we aimed to define systemic changes in gut microbiome associated with autism and autism-related GI problems. We recruited 20 neurotypical and 20 autistic children accompanied by a survey of both autistic severity and GI symptoms. By pyrosequencing the V2/V3 regions in bacterial 16S rDNA from fecal DNA samples, we compared gut microbiomes of GI symptom-free neurotypical children with those of autistic children mostly presenting GI symptoms. Unexpectedly, the presence of autistic symptoms, rather than the severity of GI symptoms, was associated with less diverse gut microbiomes. Further, rigorous statistical tests with multiple testing corrections showed significantly lower abundances of the genera Prevotella, Coprococcus, and unclassified Veillonellaceae in autistic samples. These are intriguingly versatile carbohydrate-degrading and/or fermenting bacteria, suggesting a potential influence of unusual diet patterns observed in autistic children. However, multivariate analyses showed that autism-related changes in both overall diversity and individual genus abundances were correlated with the presence of autistic symptoms but not with their diet patterns. Taken together, autism and accompanying GI symptoms were characterized by distinct and less diverse gut microbial compositions with lower levels of Prevotella, Coprococcus, and unclassified Veillonellaceae.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Pathogen, Autism, Pathogenic bacteria, Human flora


Hot air hand dryers in multiple men’s and women’s bathrooms in 3 basic science research areas in an academic health center were screened for their deposition on plates of: i) total bacteria, some of which were identified; and ii) a kanamycin resistantBacillus subtilisstrain, PS533, spores of which are produced in large amounts in one basic science research laboratory. Plates exposed to hand dryer air for 30 seconds averaged 18-60 colonies/plate but interior hand dryer nozzle surfaces had minimal bacterial levels, plates exposed to bathroom air for 2 minutes with hand dryers off averaged ≤1 colony, and plates exposed to bathroom air moved by a small fan for 20 minutes had averages of 15 and 12 colonies/plate in two buildings tested. Retrofitting hand dryers with HEPA filters reduced bacterial deposition by hand dryers ∼4-fold, and potential human pathogens were recovered from plates exposed to hand dryer air whether or not a HEPA filter was present, and from bathroom air moved by a small fan. Spore-forming colonies, identified asB. subtilisPS533 averaged ∼2.5-5% of bacteria deposited by hand dryers throughout basic research areas examined regardless of distance from the spore forming laboratory, and these were almost certainly deposited as spores. Comparable results were obtained when bathroom air was sampled for spores. These results indicate that many kinds of bacteria, including potential pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers, and that spores could be dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers.ImportanceWhile there is evidence that bathroom hand dryers can disperse bacteria from hands or deposit bacteria on surfaces, including recently washed hands, there is less information on: i) the organisms dispersed by hand dryers; ii) if hand dryers provide a reservoir of bacteria or simply blow large amounts of bacterially contaminated air; and iii) if bacterial spores are deposited on surfaces by hand dryers. Consequently, this study has implications for the control of opportunistic bacterial pathogens and spores in public environments including healthcare settings. Within a large building, potentially pathogenic bacteria including bacterial spores may travel between rooms, and subsequent bacterial/spore deposition by hand dryers is a possible mechanism for spread of infectious bacteria including spores of potential pathogens if present.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Research, Pathogen, Spore, Pathogenic bacteria, HEPA, Hand dryer


To achieve compliance with the revised World Health Organization International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), countries must be able to rapidly prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats. Most nations, however, remain unprepared to manage and control complex health emergencies, whether due to natural disasters, emerging infectious disease outbreaks, or the inadvertent or intentional release of highly pathogenic organisms. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works with countries and partners to build and strengthen global health security preparedness so they can quickly respond to public health crises. This report highlights selected CDC global health protection platform accomplishments that help mitigate global health threats and build core, cross-cutting capacity to identify and contain disease outbreaks at their source. CDC contributions support country efforts to achieve IHR 2005 compliance, contribute to the international framework for countering infectious disease crises, and enhance health security for Americans and populations around the world.

Concepts: Medicine, Public health, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Microbiology, Infection, World Health Organization, Pathogenic bacteria


The oral microbiome, which is closely associated with many diseases, and the resident pathogenic oral bacteria, which can be transferred by close physical contact, are important public health considerations. Although the dog is the most common companion animal, the composition of the canine oral microbiome, which may include human pathogenic bacteria, and its relationship with that of their owners are unclear. In this study, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing was used to compare the oral microbiomes of 10 dogs and their owners and to identify zoonotic pathogens. Pyrosequencing revealed 246 operational taxonomic units in the 10 samples, representing 57 genera from eight bacterial phyla. Firmicutes (57.6%), Proteobacteria (21.6%), Bacteroidetes (9.8%), Actinobacteria (7.1%), and Fusobacteria (3.9%) were the predominant phyla in the human oral samples, whereas Proteobacteria (25.7%), Actinobacteria (21%), Bacteroidetes (19.7%), Firmicutes (19.3%), and Fusobacteria (12.3%) were predominant in the canine oral samples. The predominant genera in the human samples were Streptococcus (43.9%), Neisseria (10.3%), Haemophilus (9.6%), Prevotella (8.4%), and Veillonella (8.1%), whereas the predominant genera in the canine samples were Actinomyces (17.2%), Unknown (16.8), Porphyromonas (14.8), Fusobacterium (11.8), and Neisseria (7.2%). The oral microbiomes of dogs and their owners were appreciably different, and similarity in the microbiomes of canines and their owners was not correlated with residing in the same household. Oral-to-oral transfer of Neisseria shayeganii, Porphyromonas canigingivalis, Tannerella forsythia, and Streptococcus minor from dogs to humans was suspected. The finding of potentially zoonotic and periodontopathic bacteria in the canine oral microbiome may be a public health concern.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Pathogen, Proteobacteria, Pathogenic bacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria


Photorhabdus luminescens is an insect pathogenic bacterium that is symbiotic with entomopathogenic nematodes. On invasion of insect larvae, P. luminescens is released from the nematodes and kills the insect through the action of a variety of virulence factors including large tripartite ABC-type toxin complexes (Tcs). Tcs are typically composed of TcA, TcB and TcC proteins and are biologically active only when complete. Functioning as ADP-ribosyltransferases, TcC proteins were identified as the actual functional components that induce actin-clustering, defects in phagocytosis and cell death. However, little is known about the translocation of TcC into the cell by the TcA and TcB components. Here we show that TcA in P. luminescens (TcdA1) forms a transmembrane pore and report its structure in the prepore and pore state determined by cryoelectron microscopy. We find that the TcdA1 prepore assembles as a pentamer forming an α-helical, vuvuzela-shaped channel less than 1.5 nanometres in diameter surrounded by a large outer shell. Membrane insertion is triggered not only at low pH as expected, but also at high pH, explaining Tc action directly through the midgut of insects. Comparisons with structures of the TcdA1 pore inserted into a membrane and in complex with TcdB2 and TccC3 reveal large conformational changes during membrane insertion, suggesting a novel syringe-like mechanism of protein translocation. Our results demonstrate how ABC-type toxin complexes bridge a membrane to insert their lethal components into the cytoplasm of the host cell. We believe that the proposed mechanism is characteristic of the whole ABC-type toxin family. This explanation of toxin translocation is a step towards understanding the host-pathogen interaction and the complex life cycle of P. luminescens and other pathogens, including human pathogenic bacteria, and serves as a strong foundation for the development of biopesticides.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Bacteria, Microbiology, Cell membrane, Pathogen, Toxin, Pathogenic bacteria