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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2009 Jan;290(1):10-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2008.01387.x. Epub 2008 Nov 10.

Free-living freshwater amoebae differ in their susceptibility to the pathogenic bacterium Legionella pneumophila.

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Université de Lyon, Lyon, France.


Legionella pneumophila is known as a facultative intracellular parasite of free-living soil and freshwater amoebae, of which several species have been shown to support the growth of the pathogenic bacteria. We report for the first time the behaviour of two strains (c2c and Z503) of the amoeba Willaertia magna towards different strains of L. pneumophila serogroup 1 and compared it with Acanthamoeba castellanii and Hartmannella vermiformis, known to be L. pneumophila permissive. In contrast to the results seen with other amoebae, W. magna c2c inhibited the growth of one strain of Legionella (L. pneumophila, Paris), but not of others belonging to the same serogroup (L. pneumophila, Philadelphia and L. pneumophila, Lens). Also, the different L. pneumophila inhibited cell growth and induced cell death in A. castellanii, H. vermiformis and W. magna Z503 within 3-4 days while W. magna c2c strain remained unaffected even up to 7 days. Electron microscopy demonstrated that the formation of numerous replicative phagosomes observed within Acanthamoeba and Hartmannella is rarely seen in W. magna c2c cocultured with L. pneumophila. Moreover, the morphological differences were observed between L. pneumophila cultured either with Willaertia or other amoebae. These observations show that amoebae are not all equally permissive to L. pneumophila and highlight W. magna c2c as particularly resistant towards some strains of this bacterium.

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