Non-cholera Vibrios: The microbial barometer of climate change

Craig Baker-Austin, Joaquin Trinanes, Narjol Gonzalez-Escalona, Jaime Martinez-Urtaza

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

262 Citations (Scopus)


There is a growing interest in the role of climate change in driving the spread of waterborne infectious diseases, such as those caused by bacterial pathogens. One particular group of pathogenic bacteria – vibrios – are a globally important cause of diseases in humans and aquatic animals. These Gram-negative bacteria, including the species Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio cholerae, grow in warm, low-salinity waters, and their abundance in the natural environment mirrors ambient environmental temperatures. In a rapidly warming marine environment, there are greater numbers of human infections, and most notably outbreaks linked to extreme weather events such as heatwaves in temperate regions such as Northern Europe. Because the growth of pathogenic vibrios in the natural environment is largely dictated by temperature, we argue that this group of pathogens represents an important and tangible barometer of climate change in marine systems. We provide a number of specific examples of the impacts of climate change on this group of bacteria and their associated diseases, and discuss advanced strategies to improve our understanding of these emerging waterborne diseases through the integration of microbiological, genomic, epidemiological, climatic, and ocean sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-84
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • climate change
  • heatwave
  • infectious diseases
  • Vibrio

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