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Molecular mechanisms underlying the emergence of bacterial pathogens: an ecological perspective

Bartoli, Claudia, Roux, Fabrice, Lamichhane, Jay Ram
Molecular plant pathology 2016 v.17 no.2 pp. 303-310
DNA, bacteria, crops, habitats, horizontal gene transfer, human health, mutation, nucleotide sequences, pathogenicity, pathogens, prediction
The rapid emergence of new bacterial diseases negatively affects both human health and agricultural productivity. Although the molecular mechanisms underlying these disease emergences are shared between human‐ and plant‐pathogenic bacteria, not much effort has been made to date to understand disease emergences caused by plant‐pathogenic bacteria. In particular, there is a paucity of information in the literature on the role of environmental habitats in which plant‐pathogenic bacteria evolve and on the stress factors to which these microbes are unceasingly exposed. In this microreview, we focus on three molecular mechanisms underlying pathogenicity in bacteria, namely mutations, genomic rearrangements and the acquisition of new DNA sequences through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). We briefly discuss the role of these mechanisms in bacterial disease emergence and elucidate how the environment can influence the occurrence and regulation of these molecular mechanisms by directly impacting disease emergence. The understanding of such molecular evolutionary mechanisms and their environmental drivers will represent an important step towards predicting bacterial disease emergence and developing sustainable management strategies for crops.