The equilibria that allow bacterial persistence in human hosts

Nature. 2007 Oct 18;449(7164):843-9. doi: 10.1038/nature06198.


We propose that microbes that have developed persistent relationships with human hosts have evolved cross-signalling mechanisms that permit homeostasis that conforms to Nash equilibria and, more specifically, to evolutionarily stable strategies. This implies that a group of highly diverse organisms has evolved within the changing contexts of variation in effective human population size and lifespan, shaping the equilibria achieved, and creating relationships resembling climax communities. We propose that such ecosystems contain nested communities in which equilibrium at one level contributes to homeostasis at another. The model can aid prediction of equilibrium states in the context of further change: widespread immunodeficiency, changing population densities, or extinctions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Helicobacter pylori / immunology
  • Helicobacter pylori / physiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / physiology
  • Salmonella typhi / immunology
  • Salmonella typhi / physiology