Invertebrates as a source of emerging human pathogens

N R Waterfield, B W Wren, R H ffrench-Constant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (SciVal)


Despite their importance, little is known about the origins of many emerging human pathogens. However, given the age and current predominance of invertebrates, it is likely that bacteria-invertebrate interactions are not only a present source of human pathogens but have also shaped their evolution. Pathogens of invertebrate and unicellular organisms represent an extensive reservoir of bacterial strains equipped with virulence factors that evolved to overcome the innate immune responses of their hosts. This reservoir might represent a source of new human pathogenic strains and might also foster the spread of novel virulence factors into existing human commensal or pathogenic bacteria. This article examines the available evidence for this concept by examining pairs of closely related bacteria, one of which is benign, but insect associated, and one of which is a human pathogen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-841
Number of pages9
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


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