Responses To Ecopollutants And Pathogenization Risks Of Saprotrophic Rhodococcus Species
Under conditions of increasing environmental pollution, true saprophytes are capable of changing their survival strategies and demonstrating certain pathogenicity factors. Actinobacteria of the genus Rhodococcus, typical soil and aquatic biotope inhabitants, are characterized by high ecological plasticity and a wide range of oxidized organic substrates, including hydrocarbons and their derivatives. Their cell adaptations, such as the ability of adhering and colonizing surfaces, a complex life cycle, formation of resting cells and capsule-like structures, diauxotrophy, and a rigid cell wall, developed against the negative effects of anthropogenic pollutants are discussed and the risks of possible pathogenization of free-living saprotrophic Rhodococcus species are proposed. Due to universal adaptation features, Rhodococcus species are among the candidates, if further anthropogenic pressure increases, to move into the group of potentially pathogenic organisms with “unprofessional” parasitism, and to join an expanding list of infectious agents as facultative or occasional parasites.