Against the tide: the role of bacterial adhesion in host colonization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


Evolving under the constant exposure to an abundance of diverse microbial life, the human body has developed many ways of defining the boundaries between self and non-self. Many physical and immunological barriers to microbial invasion exist, and yet bacteria have found a multitude of ways to overcome these, initiate interactions with and colonize the human host. Adhesion to host cells and tissues is a key feature allowing bacteria to persist in an environment under constant flux and to initiate transient or permanent symbioses with the host. This review discusses reasons why adhesion is such a seemingly indispensable requirement for bacteria–host interactions, and whether bacteria can bypass the need to adhere and still persist. It further outlines open questions about the role of adhesion in bacterial colonization and persistence within the host.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1580
JournalBiochemical Society Transactions
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2016