Pre-adapting parasitic phages to a pathogen leads to increased pathogen clearance and lowered resistance evolution with Pseudomonas aeruginosacystic fibrosis bacterial isolates

Ville-Petri Friman, Daniel Soanes-Brown, Pawel Sierocinski, Søren Molin, Helle Krogh Johansen, Maya Merabishvili, Jean-Paul Pirnay, Daniel De Vos, Angus Buckling

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Recent years have seen renewed interest in phage therapy - the use of viruses to specifically kill disease-causing bacteria – because of the alarming rise in antibiotic resistance. However, a major limitation of phage therapy is the ease at with bacteria can evolve resistance to phages. Here we determined if in vitro experimental coevolution can increase the efficiency of phage therapy by limiting the resistance evolution of intermittent and chronic cystic fibrosis Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung isolates to four different phages. We first pre-adapted all phage strains against all bacterial strains and then compared the efficacy of pre-adapted and non-adapted phages against ancestral bacterial strains. We found that evolved phages were more efficient in reducing bacterial densities than ancestral phages. This was primarily because only 50% of bacterial strains were able to evolve resistance to evolved phages, while all bacteria were able to evolve some level of resistance to ancestral phages. While the rate of resistance evolution did not differ between intermittent and chronic isolates, it incurred a relatively higher growth cost for chronic isolates when measured in the absence of phages. This is likely to explain why evolved phages were more effective in reducing the densities of chronic isolates. Our data shows that pathogen genotypes respond differently to phage pre-adaptation, and as a result, phage therapies might need to be individually adjusted for different patients.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)188-198
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Antagonism
    • Experimental evolution
    • Host-parasite interaction
    • Pathogenesis
    • Phage therapy

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