Host-induced epidemic spread of the cholera bacterium

D. Scott Merrell, Susan M. Butler, Firdausi Qadri, Nadia A. Dolganov, Ahsfaqul Alam, Mitchell B. Cohen, Stephen B. Calderwood, Gary K. Schoolnik, Andrew Camilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

419 Scopus citations


The factors that enhance the transmission of pathogens during epidemic spread are ill defined. Water-borne spread of the diarrhoeal disease cholera occurs rapidly in nature, whereas infection of human volunteers with bacteria grown in vitro is difficult in the absence of stomach acid buffering. It is unclear, however, whether stomach acidity is a principal factor contributing to epidemic spread. Here we report that characterization of Vibrio cholerae from human stools supports a model whereby human colonization creates a hyperinfectious bacterial state that is maintained after dissemination and that may contribute to epidemic spread of cholera. Transcriptional profiling of V. cholerae from stool samples revealed a unique physiological and behavioural state characterized by high expression levels of genes required for nutrient acquisition and motility, and low expression levels of genes required for bacterial chemotaxis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-645
Number of pages4
Issue number6889
StatePublished - Jun 6 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank E. A. Joyce, M. K. Waldor and A. L. Sonenshein for comments and discussion of the manuscript, C. C. Kim for help with statistical analysis, and S. Falkow and J. J. Mekalanos for critical discussions. This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. The ICDDR at Bangladesh is supported by agencies and countries that share its concern for the health problems of the developing world.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Host-induced epidemic spread of the cholera bacterium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this