Bacterial pathogen evolution: breaking news
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.tig.2010.10.001
The immense social and economic impact of bacterial pathogens, from drug-resistant infections in hospitals to the devastation of agricultural resources, has resulted in major investment to understand the causes and conse- quences of pathogen evolution. Recent genome se- quencing projects have provided insight into the evolution of bacterial genome structures; revealing the impact of mobile DNA on genome restructuring and pathogenicity. Sequencing of multiple genomes of relat- ed strains has enabled the delineation of pathogen evo- lution and facilitated the tracking of bacterial pathogens globally. Other recent theoretical and empirical studies have shown that pathogen evolution is significantly influenced by ecological factors, such as the distribution of hosts within the environment and the effects of co- infection. We suggest that the time is ripe for experi- mentalists to use genomics in conjunction with evolu- tionary ecology experiments to further understanding of how bacterial pathogens evolve.