Some of the most important diseases of livestock are caused by mycoplasmas. The article by Nicholas et al., published in Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Veterinary Science provides a comprehensive overview of some of the important issues in animal mycoplasmology:
- New mycoplasmas, new diseases?
- Are mycoplasmas tougher than they look?
- Are mycoplasmas intracellular?
- Mycoplasma vaccines: do they work?
Important diseases like contagious bovine and caprine pleuropneumonia, avian mycoplasmosis, atypical pneumonia and contagious agalactia are caused by small degenerate wall-less organisms called mycoplasmas which evolved from gram positive bacteria about 2.5 billion years ago. The smallest of them are close to the theoretical limit for free-living existence containing less than 500 genes. However, they have acquired sophisticated means to survive both in the environment and in the host. Recent discoveries of their ability to survive as biofilms and within cells have changed our understanding of these degenerate bacteria. Despite increased knowledge over the last few decades, control of many mycoplasma infections seems further away than ever due to antibiotic resistance and our inability to develop effective vaccines. This review discusses some of the important issues confronting mycoplasmologists.