Switching Lifestyles Is an in vivo Adaptive Strategy of Bacterial Pathogens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens exist as planktonic cells only at limited times during their life cycle. In response to environmental signals such as temperature, pH, osmolality, and nutrient availability, pathogenic bacteria can adopt varied cellular fates, which involves the activation of virulence gene programs and/or the induction of a sessile lifestyle to form multicellular surface-attached communities. In Salmonella, SsrB is the response regulator which governs the lifestyle switch from an intracellular virulent state to form dormant biofilms in chronically infected hosts. Using the Salmonella lifestyle switch as a paradigm, we herein compare how other pathogens alter their lifestyles to enable survival, colonization and persistence in response to different environmental cues. It is evident that lifestyle switching often involves transcriptional regulators and their modification as highlighted here. Phenotypic heterogeneity resulting from stochastic cellular processes can also drive lifestyle variation among members of a population, although this subject is not considered in the present review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number421
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
StatePublished - Dec 11 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • CsgD
  • Spo0A
  • SsrB
  • acid stress
  • biofilms
  • chronic infections
  • lifestyles
  • virulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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