Friend or foe? A review of the mechanisms that drive Serratia towards diverse lifestyles

Can J Microbiol. 2013 Sep;59(9):627-40. doi: 10.1139/cjm-2013-0343. Epub 2013 Aug 12.


Found widespread around the globe, Serratia are Gram-negative bacteria capable of thriving in a diverse number of environments that include water, soil, and the digestive tracts of various animals. Known for their ability to produce a myriad of extracellular enzymes, these bacteria also produce various secondary metabolites that directly contribute to their survival. While the effects Serratia species have on other organisms range from parasitic to symbiotic, what these bacteria have in common is their ability to resist attack, respond appropriately to environmental conditions, and outcompete other microorganisms when colonizing their respective niche. This review highlights the mechanisms utilized by Serratia species that drive their ubiquitous nature, with emphasis on the latest findings. Also discussed is how secreted compounds drive these bacteria towards pathogenic, mutualistic, and antagonistic associations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Invertebrates / microbiology
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Serratia / chemistry
  • Serratia / enzymology
  • Serratia / physiology*
  • Serratia Infections / microbiology
  • Symbiosis