Nature Reviews Microbiology 10, 583-588 (August 2012) | doi:10.1038/nrmicro2837
Corrected online: 16 July 2012

There is an Erratum (1 September 2012) associated with this article.

EssayThe Microbial Olympics

See also: There is an Erratum associated with this article

Merry Youle1, Forest Rohwer2, Apollo Stacy3, Marvin Whiteley3, Bradley C. Steel4, Nicolas J. Delalez4, Ashley L. Nord4, Richard M. Berry4, Judith P. Armitage5, Sophien Kamoun6, Saskia Hogenhout7, Stephen P. Diggle8, James Gurney8, Eric J. G. Pollitt8, Antje Boetius9 & S. Craig Cary10  About the authors


Every four years, the Olympic Games plays host to competitors who have built on their natural talent by training for many years to become the best in their chosen discipline. Similar spirit and endeavour can be found throughout the microbial world, in which every day is a competition to survive and thrive. Microorganisms are trained through evolution to become the fittest and the best adapted to a particular environmental niche or lifestyle, and to innovate when the 'rules of the game' are changed by alterations to their natural habitats. In this Essay, we honour the best competitors in the microbial world by inviting them to take part in the inaugural Microbial Olympics.

Author affiliations

  1. Merry Youle is at Rainbow Rock, Ocean View, Hawaii 96737, USA.
  2. Forest Rohwer is at the Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92182, USA.
  3. Apollo Stacy and Marvin Whiteley are at the Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.
  4. Bradley C. Steel, Nicolas J. Delalez, Ashley L. Nord and Richard M. Berry are at the Clarendon Laboratory, Physics Department, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PU, UK.
  5. Judith P. Armitage is at the Biochemistry Department, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK.
  6. Sophien Kamoun is at The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.
  7. Saskia Hogenhout is at The John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.
  8. Stephen P. Diggle, James Gurney and Eric J. G. Pollitt are at the School of Molecular Medical Sciences, Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, University Park, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.
  9. Antje Boetius is at the HGF–MPG Research Group on Deep Sea Ecology and Technology, Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research, D-27515 Bremerhaven, Germany.
  10. S. Craig Cary is at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand.

Correspondence to: Merry Youle1 Email:

Correspondence to: Marvin Whiteley3 Email:

Correspondence to: Judith P. Armitage5 Email:

Correspondence to: Sophien Kamoun6 Email:

Correspondence to: Stephen P. Diggle8 Email:

Correspondence to: Antje Boetius9 Email:

Correspondence to: S. Craig Cary10 Email:

Published online 16 July 2012

* In the original article, the order and citations for references 1 and 2 was incorrect. In the section Sprint, the reference citation should have been as follows: “A chant erupts from the eukaryotic crowd: “Kill the winner! Kill the winner!” (REF. 2.)”. In the reference list, references 1 and 2 were listed in the wrong order; this has now been corrected as listed below. We apologize to the authors and to readers for this error and for any confusion caused.