Pathogenic Bacteria

Bacterial marauders of animals slyly ply their craft.

Many pathogenic bacteria enter their animal host by being eaten. Once inside, what the bacteria encounter is a brutal environment. These microbes must avoid detection by the immune system and successfully compete with resident bacteria who will fight to protect their turf.

The invaders evolved technological tools to get the job done. On their exterior is a syringe with which a bacterium anchors itself to a host cell. The pathogen then injects its target with clever proteins that dampen the cell’s immune response.

Once pacified, the host cell is primed for victimhood. The pathogen inserts a tiny straw that it adroitly uses to selectively suck nutritious molecules out of the cell without inflicting collateral damage. After all, the goal is to make a living and keep the food supply producing its bounty.


Ishi Nobu, The Web of Life, BookBaby (2019).