Temperate phages enhance pathogen fitness in chronic lung infection

Emily V. Davies, Chloe E. James, Irena Kukavica-Ibrulj, Roger C. Levesque, Michael A. Brockhurst, Craig Winstanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Liverpool Epidemic Strain (LES) is a polylysogenic, transmissible strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, capable of superinfecting existing P. aeruginosa respiratory infections in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). The LES phages are highly active in the CF lung and may have a role in the competitiveness of the LES in vivo. In this study, we tested this by competing isogenic PAO1 strains that differed only by the presence or absence of LES prophages in a rat model of chronic lung infection. Lysogens invaded phage-susceptible populations, both in head-to-head competition and when invading from rare, in the spatially structured, heterogeneous lung environment. Appreciable densities of free phages in lung tissue confirmed active phage lysis in vivo. Moreover, we observed lysogenic conversion of the phage-susceptible competitor. These results suggest that temperate phages may have an important role in the competitiveness of the LES in chronic lung infection by acting as anti-competitor weapons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2553-2555
Number of pages3
JournalISME Journal
Issue number10
Early online date12 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


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