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Genes 2012, 3(2), 191-232; doi:10.3390/genes3020191

From Environment to Man: Genome Evolution and Adaptation of Human Opportunistic Bacterial Pathogens

1 Université Montpellier 1, UMR 5119 (UM2, CNRS, IRD, IFREMER, UM1), équipe Pathogènes et Environnements, Montpellier 34093, France 2 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Laboratoire d’Hygiène hospitalière, Montpellier 34000, France 3 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Laboratoire de Bactériologie, Montpellier 34000, France
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 February 2012 / Revised: 29 February 2012 / Accepted: 29 February 2012 / Published: 26 March 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bacterial Genomes and Their Evolution)
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Environment is recognized as a huge reservoir for bacterial species and a source of human pathogens. Some environmental bacteria have an extraordinary range of activities that include promotion of plant growth or disease, breakdown of pollutants, production of original biomolecules, but also multidrug resistance and human pathogenicity. The versatility of bacterial life-style involves adaptation to various niches. Adaptation to both open environment and human specific niches is a major challenge that involves intermediate organisms allowing pre-adaptation to humans. The aim of this review is to analyze genomic features of environmental bacteria in order to explain their adaptation to human beings. The genera Pseudomonas, Aeromonas and Ochrobactrum provide valuable examples of opportunistic behavior associated to particular genomic structure and evolution. Particularly, we performed original genomic comparisons among aeromonads and between the strictly intracellular pathogens Brucella spp. and the mild opportunistic pathogens Ochrobactrum spp. We conclude that the adaptation to human could coincide with a speciation in action revealed by modifications in both genomic and population structures. This adaptation-driven speciation could be a major mechanism for the emergence of true pathogens besides the acquisition of specialized virulence factors.
Keywords: bacterial genome; opportunistic human pathogens; environment; adaptation; emergence bacterial genome; opportunistic human pathogens; environment; adaptation; emergence
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Aujoulat, F.; Roger, F.; Bourdier, A.; Lotthé, A.; Lamy, B.; Marchandin, H.; Jumas-Bilak, E. From Environment to Man: Genome Evolution and Adaptation of Human Opportunistic Bacterial Pathogens. Genes 2012, 3, 191-232.

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