Applications of microscopy in Salmonella research

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Salmonella enterica is a Gram-negative enteropathogen that can cause localized infections, typically resulting in gastroenteritis, or systemic infection, e.g., typhoid fever, in humans and many other animals. Understanding the mechanisms by which Salmonella induces disease has been the focus of intensive research. This has revealed that Salmonella invasion requires dynamic cross-talk between the microbe and host cells, in which bacterial adherence rapidly leads to a complex sequence of cellular responses initiated by proteins translocated into the host cell by a type 3 secretion system. Once these Salmonella-induced responses have resulted in bacterial invasion, proteins translocated by a second type 3 secretion system initiate further modulation of cellular activities to enable survival and replication of the invading pathogen. Elucidation of the complex and highly dynamic pathogen-host interactions ultimately requires analysis at the level of single cells and single infection events. To achieve this goal, researchers have applied a diverse range of microscopy techniques to analyze Salmonella infection in models ranging from whole animal to isolated cells and simple eukaryotic organisms. For example, electron microscopy and high-resolution light microscopy techniques such as confocal microscopy can reveal the precise location of Salmonella and its relationship to cellular components. Widefield light microscopy is a simpler approach with which to study the interaction of bacteria with host cells and often has advantages for live cell imaging, enabling detailed analysis of the dynamics of infection and cellular responses. Here we review the use of imaging techniques in Salmonella research and compare the capabilities of different classes of microscope to address specific types of research question. We also provide protocols and notes on some microscopy techniques used routinely in our own research.




Malt, L. M., Perrett, C. A., Humphrey, S., & Jepson, M. A. (2015). Applications of microscopy in Salmonella research. Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1225, 165–198.

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