Shigella sonnei does not use amoebae as protective hosts

Jayne Watson, Claire Jenkins, Abigail Clements*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei bacteria cause the majority of all shigellosis cases worldwide. However, their distributions differ, with S. sonnei predominating in middle- and high-income countries and S. flexneri predominating in low-income countries. One proposed explanation for the continued range expansion of S. sonnei is that it can survive in amoebae, which could provide a protective environment for the bacteria. In this study, we demonstrate that while both S. sonnei and S. flexneri can survive coculture with the free-living amoebae Acanthamoebae castellanii, bacterial growth is predominantly extracellular. All isolates of Shigella were degraded following phagocytosis by A. castellanii, unlike those of Legionella pneumophila, which can replicate intracellularly. Our data suggest that S. sonnei is not able to use amoebae as a protective host to enhance environmental survival. Therefore, alternative explanations for S. sonnei emergence need to be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02679-17
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


  • Amoeba
  • Intracellular survival
  • Shigella sonnei


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