Bacterial metabolism in the host environment: Pathogen growth and nutrient assimilation in the mammalian upper respiratory tract

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Abstract

Pathogens evolve in specific host niches and microenvironments that provide the physical and nutritional requirements conducive to their growth. In addition to using the host as a source of food, bacterial pathogens must avoid the immune response to their presence. The mammalian upper respiratory tract is a site that is exposed to the external environment, and is readily colonized by bacteria that live as resident flora or as pathogens. These bacteria can remain localized, descend to the lower respiratory tract, or traverse the epithelium to disseminate throughout the body. By virtue of their successful colonization of the respiratory epithelium, these bacteria obtain the nutrients needed for growth, either directly from host resources or from other microbes. This chapter describes the upper respiratory tract environment, including its tissue and mucosal structure, prokaryotic biota, and biochemical composition that would support microbial life. Neisseria meningitidis and the Bordetella species are discussed as examples of bacteria that have no known external reservoirs but have evolved to obligately colonize the mammalian upper respiratory tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberMBP-0007-2014
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Volume3
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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