Polymicrobial challenges to Koch's postulates: ecological lessons from the bacterial vaginosis and cystic fibrosis microbiomes

Andrew Nelson, Anthony de Soyza, John Perry, Iain Sutcliffe, Stephen Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Koch's postulates have shaped our understanding of infectious diseases; however, one of the tangential consequences of them has been the emergence of a predominantly monomicrobial perspective concerning disease aetiology. This orthodoxy has been undermined by the growing recognition that some important infectious diseases have a polymicrobial aetiology. A significant new development in our understanding of polymicrobial infections is the recognition that they represent functional ecosystems and that to understand such systems and the outcome and impact of therapeutic interventions requires an understanding of how these communities arise and develop. Therefore, it is timely to explore what we can learn from other fields. In particular, ecological theory may inform our understanding of how polymicrobial communities assemble their structure and their dynamics over time. Such work may also offer insights into how such communities move from stable to unstable states, as well as the role of invasive pathogens in the progression of the disease. Ecological theory offers a theoretical framework around which testable hypotheses can be developed to clarify the polymicrobial nature and dynamics of such infections in the face of environmental change and therapeutic interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-783
JournalInnate Immunity
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

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