Bacterial populations as perfect gases: genomic integrity and diversification tensions in Helicobacter pylori

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2006 Nov;4(11):826-36. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1528.


Microorganisms that persist in single hosts face particular challenges. Helicobacter pylori, an obligate bacterial parasite of the human stomach, has evolved a lifestyle that features interstrain competition and intraspecies cooperation, both of which involve horizontal gene transfer. Microbial species must maintain genomic integrity, yet H. pylori has evolved a complex nonlinear system for diversification that exists in dynamic tension with the mechanisms for ensuring fidelity. Here, we review these tensions and propose that they create a dynamic pool of genetic variants that is sufficiently genetically diverse to allow H. pylori to occupy all of the potential niches in the stomach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Helicobacter pylori / genetics*