The journal Microorganisms proposes a Special issue on extracellular capsules.
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2021.
Extracellular capsules constitute the outermost layer of many different microorganisms. They are prevalent across all major bacterial phyla, some archaea, and yeast. When expressed, the capsule constitutes the first contact between the cell and its environment, and can play a major role in cellular adaptation. The physical properties of the capsule enhance cellular survival under chemical stresses, for instance, by increasing tolerance to antibiotics. The role of capsules during antibiotic treatment is particularly timely, as all ESKAPE pathogens (the leading etiological agents of nosocomial infections throughout the world), are capsulated. Capsules are also involved in increased survival under biotic stresses, such as predation by grazing protozoa, phage-mediated killing or host immune system.
Capsules can be synthesized by several different genetic pathways, resulting in a myriad of chemical compositions, which vary largely across as well as within species. Differences in chemical composition may lead to different functions. In fact, capsules in different species can fulfil opposite roles. For example, in some species, the capsule is very antigenic and stimulates the immune system, whereas in others, the capsule allows pathogens to dodge the immune response of the host.
Capsules have been studied since the beginning of the 20th century, but the development of omics-based research has provided a great opportunity to revisit the topic from a different standpoint, providing an integrative and global overview of the distribution of capsule operons, their expression, and their impact in cellular physiology and survival.
The aim of this Special Issue is to highlight recent advancements in our understanding of extracellular capsules in all microorganisms and explore their diversity in terms of genomic organization and functionalities. We invite a broad scope of original research manuscripts and literature reviews addressing, but not limited to, capsule genetics, evolution, biochemical composition, and cellular functions. We also look forward to research with the potential to translate into applications such as vaccine development, clinical diagnostics, and phage therapy.
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