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Keywords:

  • Campylobacter ;
  • gastroenteritis;
  • zoonosis;
  • environment

Abstract

Campylobacter species are the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis, with C. jejuni responsible for the majority of these cases. Although it is clear that livestock, and particularly poultry, are the most common source, it is likely that the natural environment (soil and water) plays a key role in transmission, either directly to humans or indirectly via farm animals. It has been shown using multilocus sequence typing that some clonal complexes (such as ST-45) are more frequently isolated from environmental sources such as water, suggesting that strains vary in their ability to survive in the environment. Although C. jejuni are fastidious microaerophiles generally unable to grow in atmospheric levels of oxygen, C. jejuni can adapt to survival in the environment, exhibiting aerotolerance and starvation survival. Biofilm formation, the viable but nonculturable state, and interactions with other microorganisms can all contribute to survival outside the host. By exploiting high-throughput technologies such as genome sequencing and RNA Seq, we are well placed to decipher the mechanisms underlying the variations in survival between strains in environments such as soil and water and to better understand the role of environmental persistence in the transmission of C. jejuni directly or indirectly to humans.