Microbial communities provide protection to their hosts by resisting pathogenic invasion. Microbial residents of a host often exclude subsequent colonizers, but this protection is not well understood. The Enterococcus faecalis plasmid pCF10, whose conjugative transfer functions are induced by a peptide pheromone, efficiently transfers in the intestinal tract of mice. Here we show that an invading donor strain established in the gastrointestinal tract of mice harboring resident recipients, resulting in a stable, mixed population comprised of approximately 10% donors and 90% recipients. We also show that the plasmid-encoded surface protein PrgB (Aggregation Substance), enhanced donor invasion of resident recipients, and resistance of resident donors to invasion by recipients. Imaging of the gastrointestinal mucosa of mice infected with differentially labeled recipients and donors revealed pheromone induction within microcolonies harboring both strains in close proximity, suggesting that adherent microcolonies on the mucosal surface of the intestine comprise an important niche for cell-cell signaling and plasmid transfer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)