DOI: 10.1128/iai.00124-23 ISSN:

Social networking at the microbiome-host interface

Richard J. Lamont, George Hajishengallis, Hyun Koo
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Parasitology


Microbial species colonizing host ecosystems in health or disease rarely do so alone. Organisms conglomerate into dynamic heterotypic communities or biofilms in which interspecies and interkingdom interactions drive functional specialization of constituent species and shape community properties, including nososymbiocity or pathogenic potential. Cell-to-cell binding, exchange of signaling molecules, and nutritional codependencies can all contribute to the emergent properties of these communities. Spatial constraints defined by community architecture also determine overall community function. Multilayered interactions thus occur between individual pairs of organisms, and the relative impact can be determined by contextual cues. Host responses to heterotypic communities and impact on host surfaces are also driven by the collective action of the community. Additionally, the range of interspecies interactions can be extended by bacteria utilizing host cells or host diet to indirectly or directly influence the properties of other organisms and the community microenvironment. In contexts where communities transition to a dysbiotic state, their quasi-organismal nature imparts adaptability to nutritional availability and facilitates resistance to immune effectors and, moreover, exploits inflammatory and acidic microenvironments for their persistence.

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