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PLoS One. 2015 Feb 24;10(2):e0115513. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115513. eCollection 2015.

Environment and colonisation sequence are key parameters driving cooperation and competition between Pseudomonas aeruginosa cystic fibrosis strains and oral commensal streptococci.

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Department of Clinical & Diagnostic Oral Sciences, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, 4 Newark Street, London, United Kingdom, E1 2AT.
Centre for Immunology and Infectious Disease, Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, 4 Newark Street, London, United Kingdom, E1 2AT.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) patient airways harbour diverse microbial consortia that, in addition to the recognized principal pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, include other bacteria commonly regarded as commensals. The latter include the oral (viridans) streptococci, which recent evidence indicates play an active role during infection of this environmentally diverse niche. As the interactions between inhabitants of the CF airway can potentially alter disease progression, it is important to identify key cooperators/competitors and environmental influences if therapeutic intervention is to be improved and pulmonary decline arrested. Importantly, we recently showed that virulence of the P. aeruginosa Liverpool Epidemic Strain (LES) could be potentiated by the Anginosus-group of streptococci (AGS). In the present study we explored the relationships between other viridans streptococci (Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis) and the LES and observed that co-culture outcome was dependent upon inoculation sequence and environment. All four streptococcal species were shown to potentiate LES virulence factor production in co-culture biofilms. However, in the case of S. oralis interactions were environmentally determined; in air cooperation within a high cell density co-culture biofilm occurred together with stimulation of LES virulence factor production, while in an atmosphere containing added CO2 this species became a competitor antagonising LES growth through hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production, significantly altering biofilm population dynamics and appearance. Streptococcus mitis, S. gordonii and S. sanguinis were also capable of H2O2 mediated inhibition of P. aeruginosa growth, but this was only visible when inoculated as a primary coloniser prior to introduction of the LES. Therefore, these observations, which are made in conditions relevant to the biology of CF disease pathogenesis, show that the pathogenic and colonisation potential of P. aeruginosa isolates can be modulated positively and negatively by the presence of oral commensal streptococci.

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