ScienceDaily reports in “Life-Saving in the Bacterial World: How Campylobacter Rely on Pseudomonas to Infect Humans” that the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni is a major cause of food poisoning in humans. It is normally transmitted from contaminated chicken meat, as it is frequently found in the intestines of chickens, where it apparently does not result in any symptoms. Campylobacter jejuni is well adapted to life in the intestines of animals — and humans — so it is surprising that it is able to survive on the surface of meat, which is generally stored in a much more oxygen-rich atmosphere.
Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have now solved the puzzle, showing that Campylobacter can survive ambient oxygen levels thanks to the presence of other bacteria, species of Pseudomonas. The interaction between the different species seems to be a mechanism for Campylobacter to remain viable on chicken meat and thus to infect humans. Campylobacter (yellow) and Pseudomonas (red).
Although Campylobacter infections are rarely life-threatening they are extremely debilitating and have been linked with the development of Guillain-Barré syndrome, one of the leading causes of non-trauma-induced paralysis worldwide.
Friederike Hilbert, Manuela Scherwitzel, Peter Paulsen and Michael P. Szostak. Survival of Campylobacter jejuni under Conditions of Atmospheric Oxygen Tension with the Support of Pseudomonas spp.. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2010; 76 (17): 5911 DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01532-10