Buried Treasure: Evolutionary Perspectives on Microbial Iron Piracy

Matthew F Barber, Nels C Elde
Trends in Genetics: TIG 2015, 31 (11): 627-636
Host-pathogen interactions provide valuable systems for the study of evolutionary genetics and natural selection. The sequestration of essential iron has emerged as a crucial innate defense system termed nutritional immunity, leading pathogens to evolve mechanisms of 'iron piracy' to scavenge this metal from host proteins. This battle for iron carries numerous consequences not only for host-pathogen evolution but also microbial community interactions. Here we highlight recent and potential future areas of investigation on the evolutionary implications of microbial iron piracy in relation to molecular arms races, host range, competition, and virulence. Applying evolutionary genetic approaches to the study of microbial iron acquisition could also provide new inroads for understanding and combating infectious disease.

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