Harnessing bacterial interactions to manage infections: a review on the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a case example.J Med Microbiol 2020JM
During infections, bacterial pathogens can engage in a variety of interactions with each other, ranging from the cooperative sharing of resources to deadly warfare. This is especially relevant in opportunistic infections, where different strains and species often co-infect the same patient and interact in the host. Here, we review the relevance of these social interactions during opportunistic infections using the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a case example. In particular, we discuss different types of pathogen-pathogen interactions, involving both cooperation and competition, and elaborate on how they impact virulence in multi-strain and multi-species infections. We then review evolutionary dynamics within pathogen populations during chronic infections. We particuarly discuss how local adaptation through niche separation, evolutionary successions and antagonistic co-evolution between pathogens can alter virulence and the damage inflicted on the host. Finally, we outline how studying bacterial social dynamics could be used to manage infections. We show that a deeper appreciation of bacterial evolution and ecology in the clinical context is important for understanding microbial infections and can inspire novel treatment strategies.