Epidemiological studies indicate that Campylobacter species may be responsible for the majority of cases of sporadic gastroenteritis in humans. These studies also suggest that poultry may be one of the most common sources of the bacteria for humans. Campylobacter and related genera in the family Campylobacteraceae are oral and intestinal commensals of vertebrates and some nonvertebrates, a characteristic that complicates rational approaches to controlling Campylobacter contamination of poultry. This review will discuss the phylogeny, genomics, and physiology of campylobacters with the intention of revealing how these organisms have evolved to fill their intestinal ecological niche in poultry and how their physiology must be understood in order to enact effective control strategies.

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