C. jejuni and C. coli are microaerophilic bacteria that have a characteristic corkscrew shape. Both belong to the same genus, Campylobacter (which means "twisted bacteria"). They are the foodborne pathogens responsible for the campylobacteriosis infection, which can cause periodontitis, dysentery, and inflammatory diarrhea.
Scientists recently discovered that C. jejuni and C. coli are beginning to merge into one species through a process called hybridization. Though they share about 85 percent of their genetic code, the two species have traditionally been very different, having adapted to fill specific niches inside the guts of chicken, cows, and other livestock.
But because of industrialized farming--which involves keeping livestock in ultra-close proximity--C. jejuni and C. coli have been pushed closer together, facilitating the exchange of genes through a process called hybridization.
This false-color electron-microscope image shows Campylobacter cells clumping together.