Bacteria Specifically Adapt Their Metabolism to Host Genotype; Results Imply Form of Bacterial “Memory”

Bacteria are masters at adapting to their environment. This adaptability contributes to the bacteria’s survival inside the host. Researchers at the Vetmeduni Vienna in Austria have now demonstrated that the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes adapts its metabolism specifically to the host genotype. The bacterial metabolic fingerprint correlated with the susceptibility of the infected mouse strain. The researchers published their results online in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on December 26, 2014. The title of the article is “Deciphering Host Genotype-Specific Impacts on the Metabolic Fingerprint of Listeria monocytogenes by FTIR Spectroscopy.” Understanding such adaptation mechanisms is crucial for the development of effective therapeutics. Dr, Monika Ehling-Schulz’s group from the Institute of Microbiology, together with Dr. Mathias Müller’s group at the Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics studied the influence of host organisms on bacterial metabolism. The researchers infected three different lineages of mice with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The mouse strains showed significant differences in their response to the infection and in the severity of their clinical symptoms. The researchers isolated the bacteria days after infection and analyzed them for changes in their metabolism. The scientists used a specific infrared spectroscopy method (FTIR) (see below) to monitor metabolic changes. The chemometric analysis of the bacterial metabolic fingerprints revealed host genotype specific imprints and adaptations of the bacterial pathogen. “Our findings may have implications on how to treat infectious diseases in general. Every patient is different and so are their bacteria,” first author Dr. Tom Grunert states.
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