Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Infect Genet Evol. 2012 Jun;12(4):832-7. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.10.006. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

Are phylogenetic position, virulence, drug susceptibility and in vivo response to treatment in mycobacteria interrelated?

Author information

  • 1Department of Clinical Microbiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, P.O. BOX 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Phylogenetic analyses on the basis of multiple house-keeping genes and whole genome sequences have offered new insights in the phylogeny of the genus Mycobacterium. This genus yields obligate pathogens, the M. tuberculosis complex and M. leprae, as well as opportunistic pathogens (e.g. M. avium, M. intracellulare, M. kansasii, M. marinum, M. malmoense) and saprophytes (e.g. M. phlei, M. sphagni, M. gordonae). The most virulent mycobacteria, the M. tuberculosis complex, M. leprae and the M. kansasii-M. szulgai-M. marinum-M. ulcerans group are phylogenetically related and infections by these organisms are better treatable than those caused by less virulent and phylogenetically more distantly related Mycobacterium species. The most virulent Mycobacterium species are also characterized by high levels of natural drug susceptibility. In this paper, we review studies of phylogeny, drug susceptibility, and clinical significance to support our hypothesis that drug susceptibility in mycobacteria is acquired and reflects the low level of competition in -and adaptation to- a closer-to-human (environmental) niche. In turn, mycobacteria that inhabit the most competitive environmental niches are the least adapted to humans, thus of low clinical significance, but most tolerant to antibiotics derived from microbes with which they share their habitat, lowering the chances of cure in case of infection.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk