Leptospira: the dawn of the molecular genetics era for an emerging zoonotic pathogen

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Oct;7(10):736-47. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2208.


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that has emerged as an important cause of morbidity and mortality among impoverished populations. One hundred years after the discovery of the causative spirochaetal agent, little is understood about Leptospira spp. pathogenesis, which in turn has hampered the development of new intervention strategies to address this neglected disease. However, the recent availability of complete genome sequences for Leptospira spp. and the discovery of genetic tools for their transformation have led to important insights into the biology of these pathogens and their pathogenesis. We discuss the life cycle of the bacterium, the recent advances in our understanding and the implications for the future prevention of leptospirosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Leptospira / genetics*
  • Leptospira / growth & development
  • Leptospira / immunology
  • Leptospira / pathogenicity*
  • Leptospirosis / epidemiology
  • Leptospirosis / microbiology*
  • Leptospirosis / prevention & control
  • Leptospirosis / transmission
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Vaccines