Studying bacterial infections through culture-independent approaches.
ABSTRACT The ability to characterize accurately the cause of infection is fundamental to effective treatment. The impact of any antimicrobial agents used to treat infection will, however, always be constrained by both the appropriateness of their use and our ability to determine their effectiveness. Traditional culture-based diagnostic microbiology is, in many cases, unable to provide this information. Molecular microbiological approaches that assess the content of clinical samples in a culture-independent manner promise to change dramatically the types of data that are obtained routinely from clinical samples. We argue that, in addition to the technical advance that these methodologies offer, a conceptual advance in the way that we reflect on the information generated is also required. Through the development of both of these advances, our understanding of infection, as well as the ways in which infections can be treated, may be improved. In the analysis of the microbiological content of certain clinical samples, such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, brain and bone biopsy, culture-independent approaches have been well documented. Herein, we discuss how extensions to such studies can shape our understanding of infection at the many sites of the human body where a mixed flora, or in more ecological terms, a community of microbes, is present. To do this, we consider the underlying principles that underpin diagnostic systems, describe the ways in which these systems can be applied to community characterization, and discuss the significance of the data generated. We propose that at all locations within the human body where infection is routinely initiated within the context of a community of microbes, the same principles will apply. To consider this further, we take insights from areas such as the gut, oral cavity and skin. The main focus here is understanding respiratory tract infection, and specifically the infections of the cystic fibrosis lung. The impact that the use of culture-independent, molecular analyses will have on the way we approach the treatment of infections is also considered.
Article: Modelling Co-Infection of the Cystic Fibrosis Lung by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia Reveals Influences on Biofilm Formation and Host Response[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The Gram-negative bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia are opportunistic human pathogens that are responsible for severe nosocomial infections in immunocompromised patients and those suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). These two bacteria have been shown to form biofilms in the airways of CF patients that make such infections more difficult to treat. Only recently have scientists begun to appreciate the complicated interplay between microorganisms during polymicrobial infection of the CF airway and the implications they may have for disease prognosis and response to therapy. To gain insight into the possible role that interaction between strains of P. aeruginosa and B. cenocepacia may play during infection, we characterised co-inoculations of in vivo and in vitro infection models. Co-inoculations were examined in an in vitro biofilm model and in a murine model of chronic infection. Assessment of biofilm formation showed that B. cenocepacia positively influenced P. aeruginosa biofilm development by increasing biomass. Interestingly, co- infection experiments in the mouse model revealed that P. aeruginosa did not change its ability to establish chronic infection in the presence of B. cenocepacia but co-infection did appear to increase host inflammatory response. Taken together, these results indicate that the co-infection of P. aeruginosa and B. cenocepacia leads to increased biofilm formation and increased host inflammatory response in the mouse model of chronic infection. These observations suggest that alteration of bacterial behavior due to interspecies interactions may be important for disease progression and persistent infection.PLoS ONE 12/2012; 7(12). · 4.09 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The microbiome of the respiratory tract, including the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal microbiota, is a dynamic community of microorganisms that is highly diverse. The cystic fibrosis (CF) airway microbiome refers to the polymicrobial communities present in the lower airways of CF patients. It is comprised of chronic opportunistic pathogens (such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and a variety of organisms derived mostly from the normal microbiota of the upper respiratory tract. The complexity of these communities has been inferred primarily from culture independent molecular profiling. As with most microbial communities it is generally assumed that most of the organisms present are not readily cultured. Our culture collection generated using more extensive cultivation approaches, reveals a more complex microbial community than that obtained by conventional CF culture methods. To directly evaluate the cultivability of the airway microbiome, we examined six samples in depth using culture-enriched molecular profiling which combines culture-based methods with the molecular profiling methods of terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. We demonstrate that combining culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches enhances the sensitivity of either approach alone. Our techniques were able to cultivate 43 of the 48 families detected by deep sequencing; the five families recovered solely by culture-independent approaches were all present at very low abundance (<0.002% total reads). 46% of the molecular signatures detected by culture from the six patients were only identified in an anaerobic environment, suggesting that a large proportion of the cultured airway community is composed of obligate anaerobes. Most significantly, using 20 growth conditions per specimen, half of which included anaerobic cultivation and extended incubation times we demonstrate that the majority of bacteria present can be cultured.PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(7):e22702. · 4.09 Impact Factor
Article: Phylogenomics of Reichenowia parasitica, an alphaproteobacterial endosymbiont of the freshwater leech Placobdella parasitica.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Although several commensal alphaproteobacteria form close relationships with plant hosts where they aid in (e.g.,) nitrogen fixation and nodulation, only a few inhabit animal hosts. Among these, Reichenowia picta, R. ornata and R. parasitica, are currently the only known mutualistic, alphaproteobacterial endosymbionts to inhabit leeches. These bacteria are harbored in the epithelial cells of the mycetomal structures of their freshwater leech hosts, Placobdella spp., and these structures have no other obvious function than housing bacterial symbionts. However, the function of the bacterial symbionts has remained unclear. Here, we focused both on exploring the genomic makeup of R. parasitica and on performing a robust phylogenetic analysis, based on more data than previous hypotheses, to test its position among related bacteria. We sequenced a combined pool of host and symbiont DNA from 36 pairs of mycetomes and performed an in silico separation of the different DNA pools through subtractive scaffolding. The bacterial contigs were compared to 50 annotated bacterial genomes and the genome of the freshwater leech Helobdella robusta using a BLASTn protocol. Further, amino acid sequences inferred from the contigs were used as queries against the 50 bacterial genomes to establish orthology. A total of 358 orthologous genes were used for the phylogenetic analyses. In part, results suggest that R. parasitica possesses genes coding for proteins related to nitrogen fixation, iron/vitamin B translocation and plasmid survival. Our results also indicate that R. parasitica interacts with its host in part by transmembrane signaling and that several of its genes show orthology across Rhizobiaceae. The phylogenetic analyses support the nesting of R. parasitica within the Rhizobiaceae, as sister to a group containing Agrobacterium and Rhizobium species.PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(11):e28192. · 4.09 Impact Factor