Dissecting Individual Interactions between Pathogenic and Commensal Bacteria within a Multispecies Gut Microbial Community

mSphere. 2021 Mar 24;6(2):e00013-21. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00013-21.


Interactions of commensal bacteria within the gut microbiota and with invading pathogens are critical in determining the outcome of an infection. While murine studies have been valuable, we lack in vitro models to monitor community responses to pathogens at a single-species level. We have developed a multispecies community of nine representative gut species cultured together as a mixed biofilm and tracked numbers of individual species over time using a quantitative PCR (qPCR)-based approach. Introduction of the major nosocomial gut pathogen, Clostridioides difficile, to this community resulted in increased adhesion of commensals and inhibition of C. difficile multiplication. Interestingly, we observed an increase in individual Bacteroides species accompanying the inhibition of C. difficile Furthermore, Bacteroides dorei reduced C. difficile growth within biofilms, suggesting a role for Bacteroides spp. in prevention of C. difficile colonization. We report here an in vitro tool with excellent applications for investigating bacterial interactions within a complex community.IMPORTANCE Studying interactions between bacterial species that reside in the human gut is crucial for gaining a better insight into how they provide protection from pathogen colonization. In vitro models of multispecies bacterial communities wherein behaviors of single species can be accurately tracked are key to such studies. Here, we have developed a synthetic, trackable, gut microbiota community which reduces growth of the human gut pathogen Clostridioides difficile We report that Bacteroides spp. within this community respond by multiplying in the presence of this pathogen, resulting in reduction of C. difficile growth. Defined in vitro communities that can be tailored to include different species are well suited to functional genomic approaches and are valuable tools for understanding interbacterial interactions.

Keywords: C. difficile; gut microbiota; interbacterial interactions; mixed biofilms; pathogen-commensal interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't