Pseudomonas aeruginosa adaptation to lungs of cystic fibrosis patients leads to lowered resistance to phage and protist enemies.

Ville-Petri Friman, Melanie Ghoul, Søren Molin, Helle Krogh Johansen, Angus Buckling

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Pathogenic life styles can lead to highly specialized interactions with host species, potentially resulting in fitness trade-offs in other ecological contexts. Here we studied how adaptation of the environmentally transmitted bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, to cystic fibrosis (CF) patients affects its survival in the presence of natural phage (14/1, ΦKZ, PNM and PT7) and protist (Tetrahymena thermophila and Acanthamoebae polyphaga) enemies. We found that most of the bacteria isolated from relatively recently intermittently colonised patients (1-25 months), were innately phage-resistant and highly toxic for protists. In contrast, bacteria isolated from long time chronically infected patients (2-23 years), were less efficient in both resisting phages and killing protists. Moreover, chronic isolates showed reduced killing of wax moth larvae (Galleria mellonella) probably due to weaker in vitro growth and protease expression. These results suggest that P. aeruginosa long-term adaptation to CF-lungs could trade off with its survival in aquatic environmental reservoirs in the presence of microbial enemies, while lowered virulence could reduce pathogen opportunities to infect insect vectors; factors that are both likely to result in poorer environmental transmission. From an applied perspective, phage therapy could be useful against chronic P. aeruginosa lung infections that are often characterized by multidrug resistance: chronic isolates were least resistant to phages and their poor growth will likely slow down the emergence of beneficial resistance mutations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPloS one.
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)e75380
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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