Microbial behavioural dynamics in cystic fibrosis patients: an evolutionary approach with clinical – Biologisk Institut - Københavns Universitet

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Microbial behavioural dynamics in cystic fibrosis patients: an evolutionary approach with clinical

Speaker: Professor Ashleigh Griffin, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK

Host:
Professor Jacobus Jan Boomsma, Section for Ecology and Evolution

Please note that the seminar takes place in Auditorium A, Building 1, Universitetsparken 15!

Abstract
Bacterial societies often create public goods for iron scavenging that can be exploited by cheating mutants. For pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, living in the human lung, this implies that cooperators are poor invaders because they alone are burdened by costs that benefit their competitors. For this reason, cheat invasion has often been considered as “game over” by researchers investigating cooperator-cheat dynamics empirically as well as theoretically. This is potentially good news for cystic fibrosis patients because invasions by cheats would weaken the ability of P. aeruginosa cells to harvest iron from host tissue. However, we followed a population after the loss of cooperation, and found a mechanism by which P. aeruginosa can decouple iron acquisition from the production of public iron scavenging molecules. The replacement of a socially cooperative resource acquisition system by a private mechanism provides a fascinating example of natural innovation practiced by microbial pathogens. Our findings underline that understanding the costs and benefits of social interactions in microbes is essential for grasping that private solutions may be superior when the alternative is extinction.