The ex vivo biology of enteric microbes

Walk, S.T.

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (2011-04-15 to 2011-04-15 )

A necessary but understudied attribute of enteric microbes is survival between hosts. Resistance and/or persistence to stimuli not encountered in vivo (inside a host) have direct influences on transmission rates and fitness. Similarly, replication in ex vivo environments (not inside a host) increases the probability of encountering new hosts. It stands to reason that enteric evolution is influenced by both host and environmental stimuli. Consistent with this hypothesis, there are few examples of obligate gut symbionts of humans or other warm-blooded animals (lineages that are acquired at birth, persist until host sexual maturity, and are passed on to the next host generation). The natural and managed ecosystems at the Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site provide unique opportunities to develop a better understanding of the ex vivo biology of enteric microbes. Here, I highlight some important in vivo and ex vivo dynamics of the model organism Escherichia coli, and propose how resources at the LTER site can be utilized to further examine the influence of ex vivo stimuli on enteric biology.

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