'Add, stir and reduce': Yersinia spp. as model bacteria for pathogen evolution

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016 Mar;14(3):177-90. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2015.29.


Pathogenic species in the Yersinia genus have historically been targets for research aimed at understanding how bacteria evolve into mammalian pathogens. The advent of large-scale population genomic studies has greatly accelerated the progress in this field, and Yersinia pestis, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia enterocolitica have once again acted as model organisms to help shape our understanding of the evolutionary processes involved in pathogenesis. In this Review, we highlight the gene gain, gene loss and genome rearrangement events that have been identified by genomic studies in pathogenic Yersinia species, and we discuss how these findings are changing our understanding of pathogen evolution. Finally, as these traits are also found in the genomes of other species in the Enterobacteriaceae, we suggest that they provide a blueprint for the evolution of enteropathogenic bacteria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enterobacteriaceae / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors / microbiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multigene Family
  • Phylogeny
  • Regulon*
  • Yersinia / classification
  • Yersinia / genetics*
  • Yersinia Infections / microbiology*
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / genetics
  • Yersinia pestis / genetics
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis / genetics