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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Predictable Molecular Adaptation of Coevolving Enterococcus faecium and Lytic Phage EfV12-phi1.

  • Author(s): Wandro, Stephen
  • Oliver, Andrew
  • Gallagher, Tara
  • Weihe, Claudia
  • England, Whitney
  • Martiny, Jennifer BH
  • Whiteson, Katrine
  • et al.

Bacteriophages are highly abundant in human microbiota where they coevolve with resident bacteria. Phage predation can drive the evolution of bacterial resistance, which can then drive reciprocal evolution in the phage to overcome that resistance. Such coevolutionary dynamics have not been extensively studied in human gut bacteria, and are of particular interest for both understanding and eventually manipulating the human gut microbiome. We performed experimental evolution of an Enterococcus faecium isolate from healthy human stool in the absence and presence of a single infecting Myoviridae bacteriophage, EfV12-phi1. Four replicates of E. faecium and phage were grown with twice daily serial transfers for 8 days. Genome sequencing revealed that E. faecium evolved resistance to phage through mutations in the yqwD2 gene involved in exopolysaccharide biogenesis and export, and the rpoC gene which encodes the RNA polymerase β' subunit. In response to bacterial resistance, phage EfV12-phi1 evolved varying numbers of 1.8 kb tandem duplications within a putative tail fiber gene. Host range assays indicated that coevolution of this phage-host pair resulted in arms race dynamics in which bacterial resistance and phage infectivity increased over time. Tracking mutations from population sequencing of experimental coevolution can quickly illuminate phage entry points along with resistance strategies in both phage and host - critical information for using phage to manipulate microbial communities.

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