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Fermentation products in the cystic fibrosis airways induce aggregation and dormancy-associated expression profiles in a CF clinical isolate of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a well-known dominant opportunistic pathogen in cystic fibrosis (CF) with a wide range of metabolic capacities. However, P. aeruginosa does not colonize the airways alone, and benefits from the metabolic products of neighboring cells-especially volatile molecules that can travel between different parts of the airways easily. Here, we present a study that investigates the metabolic, gene expression profiles and phenotypic responses of a P. aeruginosa clinical isolate to fermentation products lactic acid and 2,3-butanediol, metabolites that are produced by facultative anaerobic members of the CF polymicrobial community and potential biomarkers of disease progression. Although previous studies have successfully investigated the metabolic and transcriptional profiles of P. aeruginosa, most have used common lab reference strains that may differ in important ways from clinical isolates. Using transcriptomics and metabolomics with gas chromatography time of flight mass spectrometry, we observe that fermentation products induce pyocyanin production along with the expression of genes involved in P. aeruginosa amino acid utilization, dormancy and aggregative or biofilm modes of growth. These findings have important implications for how interactions within the diverse CF microbial community influence microbial physiology, with potential clinical consequences.

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