Bacteria often live together in complex communities. Insight into these microbial ecosystems is essential to make it possible to intervene when these ecosystems lead to disease. Bacteria do not only respond to their host, but they also affect each other, which may have far-reaching consequences for the course of the disease. In this article we describe that clinical isolates in a polymicrobial infection can be seen as ecosystems. These ecosystems often have properties that separate isolates do not have; they may, for example, be more virulent or more resistant to antibiotics. We therefore emphasise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, even for infections.
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.