Using functional genomics to decipher the complexity of microbial pathogenicity

Maisem Laabei, Ruth Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


From the first identification of bacteria as a causative agent of disease, researchers have been developing methods and techniques to understand their pathogenic processes. For decades, this work has been limited to looking at a small number of genetically manipulatable isolates in in vitro assays or animal models of infection. Despite these limitations such work has facilitated the development of successful therapeutic strategies, most notably vaccines that target specific virulence-related features. There are however many antimicrobial resistant pathogens for which vaccination strategies have not worked, as we simply do not know enough about how they cause disease. We are however at the dawn of a new era in the study of microbial pathogenicity, where large collections of bacteria isolated directly from human infections can be sequenced and assayed to identify the bacterial features that affect disease severity in humans. Here, we describe our attempt to perform such a study focussed on the major human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, which demonstrates the step changes such approaches can make to understanding microbial pathogenicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-525
Number of pages3
JournalCurrent Genetics
Issue number3
Early online date22 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Bacteraemia
  • Evolutionary trade-offs
  • GWAS
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Toxicity


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