Supplementary material from "Temperate phages as self-replicating weapons in bacterial competition"

Published on 2017-12-05T11:29:43Z (GMT) by
Microbial communities are accompanied by a diverse array of viruses. Through infections of abundant microbes, these viruses have the potential to mediate competition within the community, effectively weakening competitive interactions and promoting coexistence. This is of particular relevance for host-associated microbial communities, because the diversity of the microbiota has been linked to host health and functioning. Here, we study the interaction between two key members of the microbiota of the freshwater metazoan <i>Hydra vulgaris</i>. The two commensal bacteria <i>Curvibacter</i> sp. and <i>Duganella</i> sp. protect their host from fungal infections, but only if both of them are present. Coexistence of the two bacteria is thus beneficial for <i>Hydra</i>. Intriguingly, <i>Duganella</i> sp. appears to be the superior competitor <i>in vitro</i> due to its higher growth rate when both bacteria are grown separately, but in co-culture the outcome of competition depends on the relative initial abundances of the two species. The presence of an inducible prophage in the <i>Curvibacter</i> sp. genome, which is able to lytically infect <i>Duganella</i> sp., led us to hypothesize that the phage modulates the interaction between these two key members of the <i>Hydra</i> microbiota. Using a mathematical model, we show that the interplay of the lysogenic life cycle of the <i>Curvibacter</i> phage and the lytic life cycle on <i>Duganella</i> sp. can explain the observed complex competitive interaction between the two bacteria. Our results highlight the importance of taking lysogeny into account for understanding microbe–virus interactions and show the complex role phages can play in promoting coexistence of their bacterial hosts.

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Li, Xiang-Yi; Lachnit, Tim; Fraune, Sebastian; C. G. Bosch, Thomas; Traulsen, Arne; Sieber, Michael (2017): Supplementary material from "Temperate phages as self-replicating weapons in bacterial competition". The Royal Society.