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Single-Cell Imaging Reveals That Staphylococcus aureus Is Highly Competitive Against Pseudomonas aeruginosa on Surfaces


Niggli, Selina; Wechsler, Tobias; Kümmerli, Rolf (2021). Single-Cell Imaging Reveals That Staphylococcus aureus Is Highly Competitive Against Pseudomonas aeruginosa on Surfaces. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 11:733991.

Abstract

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus frequently occur together in polymicrobial infections, and their interactions can complicate disease progression and treatment options. While interactions between P. aeruginosa and S. aureus have been extensively described using planktonic batch cultures, little is known about whether and how individual cells interact with each other on solid substrates. This is important because both species frequently colonize surfaces to form aggregates and biofilms in infections. Here, we performed single-cell time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, combined with automated image analysis, to describe interactions between P. aeruginosa PAO1 with three different S. aureus strains (Cowan I, 6850, JE2) during microcolony growth on agarose surfaces. While P. aeruginosa is usually considered the dominant species, we found that the competitive balance tips in favor of S. aureus on surfaces. We observed that all S. aureus strains accelerated the onset of microcolony growth in competition with P. aeruginosa and significantly compromised P. aeruginosa growth prior to physical contact. Upon direct contact, JE2 was the most competitive S. aureus strain, simply usurping P. aeruginosa microcolonies, while 6850 was the weakest competitor itself suppressed by P. aeruginosa. Moreover, P. aeruginosa reacted to the assault of S. aureus by showing increased directional growth and expedited expression of quorum sensing regulators controlling the synthesis of competitive traits. Altogether, our results reveal that quantitative single-cell live imaging has the potential to uncover microbial behaviors that cannot be predicted from batch culture studies, and thereby contribute to our understanding of interactions between pathogens that co-colonize host-associated surfaces during polymicrobial infections.

Abstract

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus frequently occur together in polymicrobial infections, and their interactions can complicate disease progression and treatment options. While interactions between P. aeruginosa and S. aureus have been extensively described using planktonic batch cultures, little is known about whether and how individual cells interact with each other on solid substrates. This is important because both species frequently colonize surfaces to form aggregates and biofilms in infections. Here, we performed single-cell time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, combined with automated image analysis, to describe interactions between P. aeruginosa PAO1 with three different S. aureus strains (Cowan I, 6850, JE2) during microcolony growth on agarose surfaces. While P. aeruginosa is usually considered the dominant species, we found that the competitive balance tips in favor of S. aureus on surfaces. We observed that all S. aureus strains accelerated the onset of microcolony growth in competition with P. aeruginosa and significantly compromised P. aeruginosa growth prior to physical contact. Upon direct contact, JE2 was the most competitive S. aureus strain, simply usurping P. aeruginosa microcolonies, while 6850 was the weakest competitor itself suppressed by P. aeruginosa. Moreover, P. aeruginosa reacted to the assault of S. aureus by showing increased directional growth and expedited expression of quorum sensing regulators controlling the synthesis of competitive traits. Altogether, our results reveal that quantitative single-cell live imaging has the potential to uncover microbial behaviors that cannot be predicted from batch culture studies, and thereby contribute to our understanding of interactions between pathogens that co-colonize host-associated surfaces during polymicrobial infections.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Quantitative Biomedicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Microbiology
Life Sciences > Immunology
Health Sciences > Microbiology (medical)
Health Sciences > Infectious Diseases
Uncontrolled Keywords:Infectious Diseases, Microbiology (medical), Immunology, Microbiology
Language:English
Date:26 August 2021
Deposited On:01 Feb 2022 13:28
Last Modified:26 Jun 2024 01:51
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:2235-2988
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2021.733991
PubMed ID:34513736
Project Information:
  • : FunderHorizon 2020
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)