Interspecies bacterial communication produces a delicate balance between Vibrio cholerae and the chironomid egg mass microbiome

Jonathan D. Oliver, Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones

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The evolution of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the ten most concerning public health threats facing humanity (World Health Organization, 2020). Bacterial diseases previously controllable by antibiotics are resurging and treatment options are dwindling. Cholera is one such disease. Human pathogenic strains of Vibrio cholerae cause as many as 4 million cases of disease resulting in over 100,000 deaths each year (Ali et al. 2015) and multidrug-resistant V. cholerae is now established where pandemic cholera persists. Vibrio cholerae is fundamentally an aquatic species thriving in brackish and estuarial waters. Its environmental prevalence, together with both extracellular and intracellular infection of alternative arthropod and mollusc hosts, produces a highly complex ecological milieu that is not well understood. With the absence of reliable antibiotic-based treatment options, it is necessary to build a better understanding of V. cholerae biology and ecology in order to develop alternative methods for risk modelling and disease control. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, authors Sela, Hammer, and Halpern experimentally investigated a mechanism by which V. cholerae pathogenicity is affected by interspecies quorum sensing involving an array of bacterial species from the microbiome of an alternative arthropod host, the egg mass of a chironomid midge (Diptera:Chironomidae) (Sela et al. 2020). Quorum sensing is a mechanism whereby bacteria communicate with each other using autoinducers and is known to be important, for example, in shaping virulence in a variety of pathogenic bacteria. The innovative methodologies they used, both in molecular and protein biology and reductive investigative microbiomics, are helping to develop the tools needed for understanding this understudied ecological system and fighting cholera in a post-antibiotic world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1571-1573
Number of pages3
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

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© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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