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.
- Evolutionary trade-offs
- Staphylococcus aureus