Shared Characteristics Between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Fungi Contribute to Virulence

Sam Willcocks; Brendan W Wren


Future Microbiol. 2014;9(5):657-668. 

In This Article


In conclusion, we have considered several examples across diverse fields of research to promote the concept that M. tuberculosis is unique among bacteria in that it shares many common features with pathogenic fungi. This observation was originally made based on superficial characteristics when the bacterial genus was first named; more than a century later we can update and strengthen that original assertion. While individual examples in the manuscript may be found also in non-mycobacterial prokaryotes, we hope to build a 'sum of parts' picture that it is the collection of all these factors rather than any particular one that make mycobacteria uniquely similar to fungi. Furthermore, these represent strategies that contribute to virulence, and may partly explain the heightened severity of disease among the rapidly emerging modern lineages. How we manage and treat this hugely successful pathogen will benefit from our knowledge of where it has come from and, shaped by our mutual evolution, how it will continue to evolve.