Table of Contents
International Scholarly Research Notices
Volume 2014, Article ID 846049, 23 pages
Review Article

The Dynamic Interactions between Salmonella and the Microbiota, within the Challenging Niche of the Gastrointestinal Tract

Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, The Medical School, University of Newcastle, England NE2 4HH, UK

Received 6 March 2014; Accepted 14 May 2014; Published 10 July 2014

Academic Editor: Konrad Trülzsch

Copyright © 2014 C. M. Anjam Khan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Understanding how Salmonella species establish successful infections remains a foremost research priority. This gastrointestinal pathogen not only faces the hostile defenses of the host’s immune system, but also faces fierce competition from the large and diverse community of microbiota for space and nutrients. Salmonella have solved these challenges ingeniously. To jump-start growth, Salmonella steal hydrogen produced by the gastrointestinal microbiota. Type 3 effector proteins are subsequently secreted by Salmonella to trigger potent inflammatory responses, which generate the alternative terminal electron acceptors tetrathionate and nitrate. Salmonella exclusively utilize these electron acceptors for anaerobic respiration, permitting metabolic access to abundant substrates such as ethanolamine to power growth blooms. Chemotaxis and flagella-mediated motility enable the identification of nutritionally beneficial niches. The resulting growth blooms also promote horizontal gene transfer amongst the resident microbes. Within the gastrointestinal tract there are opportunities for chemical signaling between host cells, the microbiota, and Salmonella. Host produced catecholamines and bacterial autoinducers form components of this chemical dialogue leading to dynamic interactions. Thus, Salmonella have developed remarkable strategies to initially shield against host defenses and to transiently compete against the intestinal microbiota leading to successful infections. However, the immunocompetent host is subsequently able to reestablish control and clear the infection.