A chapter entitled “A Brief History of Shigella” was just published as part of the electronic encyclopedia EcoSal Plus, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Anthony Maurelli co-wrote the chapter over the course of six months, alongside Dr. Keith Lampel and the late, Dr. Samuel Formal.
The chapter covers the first 100 years of research on the causative agents of bacillary dysentery, a disease that continues to sicken tens of thousands of people each year in developing and developed countries alike. “It was eye opening to dig back into the history of the disease and those who studied it,” said Dr. Maurelli.
The chapter also highlights the many ways that research on Shigella contributed to the discovery of major paradigms in microbial pathogenesis and infectious diseases, e.g. the first application of phage therapy to treat an infectious disease, the first emergence of multiple antibiotic resistance in a bacterial pathogen, and the first description of how conjugation (a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer) contributes to the spread of antibiotic resistance. Sidebars in the chapter provide insight into the origins of the most frequently studied isolates of Shigella and a genealogy of key investigators in the field.
“Over the years, the principle discovered of Shigella pathogenesis proved to be true for other pathogens. Hopefully, we’ve put that into perspective with the chapter,” said Dr. Maurelli.
One of the reviewers of the chapter called it “a beautifully written compendium of historical perspectives and seminal discoveries” and suggested that it “should be required reading for students of bacterial pathogenesis”. The editor called it “an outstanding chapter that will be a landmark article in reviewing the history of Shigella”.