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

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

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Pathogen Research Group, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Lane, Nottingham NG11 8NS, UK.
Pathogen Genomics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA, UK.
Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Box 157 Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK.
Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.


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.

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