A visual review of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae

Ditte Høyer Engholm, Mogens Kilian, David S. Goodsell, Ebbe Sloth Andersen, Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Scopus citations


Being the principal causative agent of bacterial pneumonia, otitis media, meningitis and septicemia, the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major global health problem. To highlight the molecular basis of this problem, we have portrayed essential biological processes of the pneumococcal life cycle in eight watercolor paintings. The paintings are done to a consistent nanometer scale based on currently available data from structural biology and proteomics. In this review article, the paintings are used to provide a visual review of protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, cell wall synthesis, cell division, teichoic acid synthesis, virulence, transformation and pilus synthesis based on the available scientific literature within the field of pneumococcal biology. Visualization of the molecular details of these processes reveals several scientific questions about how molecular components of the pneumococcal cell are organized to allow biological function to take place. By the presentation of this visual review, we intend to stimulate scientific discussion, aid in the generation of scientific hypotheses and increase public awareness. A narrated video describing the biological processes in the context of a whole-cell illustration accompany this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-879
Number of pages26
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


  • Molecular landscape
  • Pneumococcal biology
  • Scientific illustration
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Visual review
  • Watercolor painting

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