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The Microbial Olympics

An Erratum to this article was published on 16 July 2012

This article has been updated


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.

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Figure 1: The 100 μm freestyle swimming.
Figure 2: The pathogen relay.

Change history

  • 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.


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S. Kamoun and S. Hogenhout are supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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Correspondence to Merry Youle, Marvin Whiteley, Judith P. Armitage, Sophien Kamoun, Stephen P. Diggle, Antje Boetius or S. Craig Cary.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary information S1 (movie)

A movie of the 100 μm freestyle swimming. (AVI 25130 kb)

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Youle, M., Rohwer, F., Stacy, A. et al. The Microbial Olympics. Nat Rev Microbiol 10, 583–588 (2012).

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