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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2008;62:113-31. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.62.081307.162818.

Chlamydiae as symbionts in eukaryotes.

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  • 1Department of Microbial Ecology, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Members of the phylum Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria that were discovered about a century ago. Although Chlamydiae are major pathogens of humans and animals, they were long recognized only as a phylogenetically well-separated, small group of closely related microorganisms. The diversity of chlamydiae, their host range, and their occurrence in the environment had been largely underestimated. Today, several chlamydia-like bacteria have been described as symbionts of free-living amoebae and other eukaryotic hosts. Some of these environmental chlamydiae might also be of medical relevance for humans. Their analysis has contributed to a broader understanding of chlamydial biology and to novel insights into the evolution of these unique microorganisms.

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