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Data from: Rapid diversification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis lung-like conditions


Schick, Alana; Kassen, Rees (2018), Data from: Rapid diversification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis lung-like conditions, Dryad, Dataset,


Chronic infection of the cystic fibrosis (CF) airway by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for adult CF patients. Prolonged infections are accompanied by adaptation of P. aeruginosa to the unique conditions of the CF lung environment, as well as marked diversification of the pathogen into phenotypically and genetically distinct strains that can coexist for years within a patient. Little is known, however, about the causes of this diversification and its impact on patient health. Here, we show experimentally that, consistent with ecological theory of diversification, the nutritional conditions of the CF airway can cause rapid and extensive diversification of P. aeruginosa. Mucin, the substance responsible for the increased viscosity associated with the thick mucus layer in the CF airway, had little impact on within-population diversification but did promote divergence among populations. Furthermore, in vitro evolution recapitulated traits thought to be hallmarks of chronic infection, including reduced motility and increased biofilm formation, and the range of phenotypes observed in a collection of clinical isolates. Our results suggest that nutritional complexity and reduced dispersal can drive evolutionary diversification of P. aeruginosa independent of other features of the CF lung such as an active immune system or the presence of competing microbial species. We suggest that diversification, by generating extensive phenotypic and genetic variation on which selection can act, may be a key first step in the development of chronic infections.

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