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      Evolutionary dynamics of bacteria in a human host environment

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          Abstract

          Laboratory evolution experiments have led to important findings relating organism adaptation and genomic evolution. However, continuous monitoring of long-term evolution has been lacking for natural systems, limiting our understanding of these processes in situ. Here we characterize the evolutionary dynamics of a lineage of a clinically important opportunistic bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as it adapts to the airways of several individual cystic fibrosis patients over 200,000 bacterial generations, and provide estimates of mutation rates of bacteria in a natural environment. In contrast to predictions based on in vitro evolution experiments, we document limited diversification of the evolving lineage despite a highly structured and complex host environment. Notably, the lineage went through an initial period of rapid adaptation caused by a small number of mutations with pleiotropic effects, followed by a period of genetic drift with limited phenotypic change and a genomic signature of negative selection, suggesting that the evolving lineage has reached a major adaptive peak in the fitness landscape. This contrasts with previous findings of continued positive selection from long-term in vitro evolution experiments. The evolved phenotype of the infecting bacteria further suggests that the opportunistic pathogen has transitioned to become a primary pathogen for cystic fibrosis patients.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Lung infections associated with cystic fibrosis.

          While originally characterized as a collection of related syndromes, cystic fibrosis (CF) is now recognized as a single disease whose diverse symptoms stem from the wide tissue distribution of the gene product that is defective in CF, the ion channel and regulator, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Defective CFTR protein impacts the function of the pancreas and alters the consistency of mucosal secretions. The latter of these effects probably plays an important role in the defective resistance of CF patients to many pathogens. As the modalities of CF research have changed over the decades from empirical histological studies to include biophysical measurements of CFTR function, the clinical management of this disease has similarly evolved to effectively address the ever-changing spectrum of CF-related infectious diseases. These factors have led to the successful management of many CF-related infections with the notable exception of chronic lung infection with the gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The virulence of P. aeruginosa stems from multiple bacterial attributes, including antibiotic resistance, the ability to utilize quorum-sensing signals to form biofilms, the destructive potential of a multitude of its microbial toxins, and the ability to acquire a mucoid phenotype, which renders this microbe resistant to both the innate and acquired immunologic defenses of the host.
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            Accurate multiplex polony sequencing of an evolved bacterial genome.

            We describe a DNA sequencing technology in which a commonly available, inexpensive epifluorescence microscope is converted to rapid nonelectrophoretic DNA sequencing automation. We apply this technology to resequence an evolved strain of Escherichia coli at less than one error per million consensus bases. A cell-free, mate-paired library provided single DNA molecules that were amplified in parallel to 1-micrometer beads by emulsion polymerase chain reaction. Millions of beads were immobilized in a polyacrylamide gel and subjected to automated cycles of sequencing by ligation and four-color imaging. Cost per base was roughly one-ninth as much as that of conventional sequencing. Our protocols were implemented with off-the-shelf instrumentation and reagents.
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              Quorum-sensing signals indicate that cystic fibrosis lungs are infected with bacterial biofilms.

              The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa permanently colonizes cystic fibrosis lungs despite aggressive antibiotic treatment. This suggests that P. aeruginosa might exist as biofilms--structured communities of bacteria encased in a self-produced polymeric matrix--in the cystic fibrosis lung. Consistent with this hypothesis, microscopy of cystic fibrosis sputum shows that P. aeruginosa are in biofilm-like structures. P. aeruginosa uses extracellular quorum-sensing signals (extracellular chemical signals that cue cell-density-dependent gene expression) to coordinate biofilm formation. Here we found that cystic fibrosis sputum produces the two principal P. aeruginosa quorum-sensing signals; however, the relative abundance of these signals was opposite to that of the standard P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 in laboratory broth culture. When P. aeruginosa sputum isolates were grown in broth, some showed quorum-sensing signal ratios like those of the laboratory strain. When we grew these isolates and PAO1 in a laboratory biofilm model, the signal ratios were like those in cystic fibrosis sputum. Our data support the hypothesis that P. aeruginosa are in a biofilm in cystic fibrosis sputum. Moreover, quorum-sensing signal profiling of specific P. aeruginosa strains may serve as a biomarker in screens to identify agents that interfere with biofilm development.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                May 03 2011
                May 03 2011
                April 25 2011
                May 03 2011
                : 108
                : 18
                : 7481-7486
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1018249108
                3088582
                21518885
                © 2011
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