Aeromonas flagella and colonisation mechanisms

Adv Microb Physiol. 2014;65:203-56. doi: 10.1016/bs.ampbs.2014.08.007. Epub 2014 Nov 4.


Aeromonas species are inhabitants of aquatic environments and are able to cause disease in humans and fish among other animals. In aquaculture, they are responsible for the economically important diseases of furunculosis and motile Aeromonas septicaemia (MAS). Whereas gastroenteritis and wound infections are the major human diseases associated with the genus. As they inhabit and survive in diverse environments, aeromonads possess a wide range of colonisation factors. The motile species are able to swim in liquid environments through the action of a single polar flagellum, the flagellin subunits of which are glycosylated; although essential for function the biological role of glycan addition is yet to be determined. Approximately 60% of aeromonads possess a second lateral flagella system that is expressed in viscous environments for swarming over surfaces; both flagellar systems have been shown to be important in the initial colonisation of surfaces. Subsequently, other non-flagellar colonisation factors are employed; these can be both filamentous and non-filamentous. The aeromonads possess a number of fimbrial systems with the bundle-forming MSHA type IV pilus system, having a major role in human cell adherence. Furthermore, a series of outer-membrane proteins have also been implicated in the aeromonad adhesion process. A number of strains are also capable of cell invasion and that maybe linked with the more invasive diseases of bacteraemia or wound infections. These strains employ cell surface factors that allow the colonisation of these niches that protect them from the host's immune system such as S-layers, capsules or particular lipopolysaccharides.

Keywords: Aeromonas; Colonisation; Flagella; Glycosylation; Lateral flagella; Pili.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aeromonas / genetics*
  • Aeromonas / growth & development
  • Aeromonas / pathogenicity*
  • Aeromonas / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / physiology
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / ultrastructure
  • Flagella / genetics
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Flagella / ultrastructure
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans


  • Bacterial Proteins