Staphylococci: Colonizers and Pathogens of Human Skin

Rosanna Coates; Josephine Moran; Malcolm J Horsburgh


Future Microbiol. 2014;9(1):75-91. 

In This Article

Conclusion & Future Perspective

The increasing number of CoNS infections and the emergence of more virulent S. aureus strains highlight a need to understand how staphylococci exploit the human epidermis as a niche. Understandably, previous studies have used in vitro models and focused on mechanistic aspects. In the future, a more holistic approach is required in order to interrogate interactions between the staphylococci and the skin. The combined use of systems biology with emerging models of colonization (Box 1) is required to understand the complex interactions between multiple bacterial components and skin. An explosion of genome and metagenome data from studies of skin microbiota, from different body sites and individuals, will soon provide new insights into the evolution of skin survival. From a genomics perspective, the pan-genome analysis of the CoNS will reveal the generic and species-specific genes and the potential supply routes for enhanced versatility via interspecies horizontal gene transfer. The menacing emergence of the ACME mobile element in community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus revealed transferable resources for enhanced versatility within the genus that impact upon S. aureus virulence. The surge in staphylococcal genome sequencing will enable single nucleotide resolution of the genetic basis for fitness and adaptation. The additional context of metagenomic data combined with studies of phenotypic variation will further add to our understanding of the staphylococci colonizing skin. Just as the secreted immune evasion proteins of S. aureus have provided useful tools to dissect innate immunity, the staphylococci are likely to provide resources to better understand the biology of skin and its antimicrobial barrier functions.