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Colonization, Competition, and Dispersal of Pathogens in Fluid Flow Networks

Author(s): Siryaporn, Albert; Kim, Minyoung Kevin; Shen, Yi; Stone, Howard A; Gitai, Zemer

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Abstract: The colonization of bacteria in complex fluid flow networks, such as those found in host vasculature, remains poorly understood. Recently, it was reported that many bacteria, including Bacillus subtilis [1], Escherichia coli [2], and Pseudomonas aeruginosa [3, 4], can move in the opposite direction of fluid flow. Upstream movement results from the interplay between fluid shear stress and bacterial motility structures and such rheotactic-like behavior is predicted to occur for a wide range of conditions [1]. Given the potential ubiquity of upstream movement, its impact on population-level behaviors within hosts could be significant. Here, we find that P. aeruginosa communities use a diverse set of motility strategies, including a novel surface motility mechanism characterized by counter-advection and transverse diffusion, to rapidly disperse throughout vasculature-like flow networks. These motility modalities give P. aeruginosa a selective growth advantage, enabling it to self-segregate from other human pathogens such as Proteus mirabilis and Staphylococcus aureus that outcompete P. aeruginosa in well-mixed non-flow environments. We develop a quantitative model of bacterial colonization in flow networks, confirm our model in vivo in plant vasculature, and validate a key prediction that colonization and dispersal can be inhibited by modifying surface chemistry. Our results show that the interaction between flow mechanics and motility structures shapes the formation of mixed-species communities and suggest a general mechanism by which bacteria could colonize hosts. Furthermore, our results suggest novel strategies for tuning the composition of multi-species bacterial communities in hosts, preventing inappropriate colonization in medical devices, and combatting bacterial infections.
Publication Date: May-2015
Citation: Siryaporn, Albert, Kim, Minyoung Kevin, Shen, Yi, Stone, Howard A, Gitai, Zemer. (2015). Colonization, Competition, and Dispersal of Pathogens in Fluid Flow Networks. Current Biology, 25 (9), 1201 - 1207. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.074
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.074
ISSN: 0960-9822
Pages: 1 - 12
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Current Biology
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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