'Blooming' in the gut: how dysbiosis might contribute to pathogen evolution

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2013 Apr;11(4):277-84. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2989. Epub 2013 Mar 11.


Hundreds of bacterial species make up the mammalian intestinal microbiota. Following perturbations by antibiotics, diet, immune deficiency or infection, this ecosystem can shift to a state of dysbiosis. This can involve overgrowth (blooming) of otherwise under-represented or potentially harmful bacteria (for example, pathobionts). Here, we present evidence suggesting that dysbiosis fuels horizontal gene transfer between members of this ecosystem, facilitating the transfer of virulence and antibiotic resistance genes and thereby promoting pathogen evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Diet
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Immunity
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Mammals
  • Metagenome / drug effects
  • Metagenome / genetics
  • Metagenome / physiology*
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Virulence Factors