skip to main content

Title: Spatial patterns in phage-Rhizobium coevolutionary interactions across regions of common bean domestication

Bacteriophages play significant roles in the composition, diversity, and evolution of bacterial communities. Despite their importance, it remains unclear how phage diversity and phage-host interactions are spatially structured. Local adaptation may play a key role. Nitrogen-fixing symbiotic bacteria, known as rhizobia, have been shown to locally adapt to domesticated common bean at its Mesoamerican and Andean sites of origin. This may affect phage-rhizobium interactions. However, knowledge about the diversity and coevolution of phages with their respective Rhizobium populations is lacking. Here, through the study of four phage-Rhizobium communities in Mexico and Argentina, we show that both phage and host diversity is spatially structured. Cross-infection experiments demonstrated that phage infection rates were higher overall in sympatric rhizobia than in allopatric rhizobia except for one Argentinean community, indicating phage local adaptation and host maladaptation. Phage-host interactions were shaped by the genetic identity and geographic origin of both the phage and the host. The phages ranged from specialists to generalists, revealing a nested network of interactions. Our results suggest a key role of local adaptation to resident host bacterial communities in shaping the phage genetic and phenotypic composition, following a similar spatial pattern of diversity and coevolution to that in the host.

; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The ISME Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 2092-2106
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Hendrickson, Heather (Ed.)
    Abstract Bacteria and lytic viruses (phages) engage in highly dynamic coevolutionary interactions over time, yet we have little idea of how transient selection by phages might shape the future evolutionary trajectories of their host populations. To explore this question, we generated genetically diverse phage-resistant mutants of the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. We subjected the panel of mutants to prolonged experimental evolution in the absence of phages. Some populations re-evolved phage sensitivity, whereas others acquired compensatory mutations that reduced the costs of resistance without altering resistance levels. To ask whether these outcomes were driven by the initial genetic mechanisms of resistance, we next evolved independent replicates of each individual mutant in the absence of phages. We found a strong signature of historical contingency: some mutations were highly reversible across replicate populations, whereas others were highly entrenched. Through whole-genome sequencing of bacteria over time, we also found that populations with the same resistance gene acquired more parallel sets of mutations than populations with different resistance genes, suggesting that compensatory adaptation is also contingent on how resistance initially evolved. Our study identifies an evolutionary ratchet in bacteria–phage coevolution and may explain previous observations that resistance persists over time in some bacterial populations but ismore »lost in others. We add to a growing body of work describing the key role of phages in the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of their host communities. Beyond this specific trait, our study provides a new insight into the genetic architecture of historical contingency, a crucial component of interpreting and predicting evolution.« less
  2. Dudley, Edward G. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Bacteriophages (phages) are currently available for use by the food industry to control the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes . Although phage biocontrols are effective under specific conditions, their use can select for phage-resistant bacteria that repopulate phage-treated environments. Here, we performed short-term coevolution experiments to investigate the impact of single phages and a two-phage cocktail on the regrowth of phage-resistant L. monocytogenes and the adaptation of the phages to overcome this resistance. We used whole-genome sequencing to identify mutations in the target host that confer phage resistance and in the phages that alter host range. We found that infections with Listeria phages LP-048, LP-125, or a combination of both select for different populations of phage-resistant L. monocytogenes bacteria with different regrowth times. Phages isolated from the end of the coevolution experiments were found to have gained the ability to infect phage-resistant mutants of L. monocytogenes and L. monocytogenes strains previously found to be broadly resistant to phage infection. Phages isolated from coinfected cultures were identified as recombinants of LP-048 and LP-125. Interestingly, recombination events occurred twice independently in a locus encoding two proteins putatively involved in DNA binding. We show that short-term coevolution of phages and their hosts canmore »be utilized to obtain mutant and recombinant phages with adapted host ranges. These laboratory-evolved phages may be useful for limiting the emergence of phage resistance and for targeting strains that show general resistance to wild-type (WT) phages. IMPORTANCE Listeria monocytogenes is a life-threatening bacterial foodborne pathogen that can persist in food processing facilities for years. Phages can be used to control L. monocytogenes in food production, but phage-resistant bacterial subpopulations can regrow in phage-treated environments. Coevolution experiments were conducted on a Listeria phage-host system to provide insight into the genetic variation that emerges in both the phage and bacterial host under reciprocal selective pressure. As expected, mutations were identified in both phage and host, but additionally, recombination events were shown to have repeatedly occurred between closely related phages that coinfected L. monocytogenes . This study demonstrates that in vitro evolution of phages can be utilized to expand the host range and improve the long-term efficacy of phage-based control of L. monocytogenes . This approach may also be applied to other phage-host systems for applications in biocontrol, detection, and phage therapy.« less
  3. ABSTRACT Relatively little is known about the phages that infect agriculturally important nitrogen-fixing rhizobial bacteria. Here we report the genome and cryo-electron microscopy structure of the Sinorhizobium meliloti -infecting T4 superfamily phage ΦM9. This phage and its close relative Rhizobium phage vB_RleM_P10VF define a new group of T4 superfamily phages. These phages are distinctly different from the recently characterized cyanophage-like S. meliloti phages of the ΦM12 group. Structurally, ΦM9 has a T=16 capsid formed from repeating units of an extended gp23-like subunit that assemble through interactions between one subunit and the adjacent E-loop insertion domain. Though genetically very distant from the cyanophages, the ΦM9 capsid closely resembles that of the T4 superfamily cyanophage Syn9. ΦM9 also has the same T=16 capsid architecture as the very distant phage SPO1 and the herpesviruses. Despite their overall lack of similarity at the genomic and structural levels, ΦM9 and S. meliloti phage ΦM12 have a small number of open reading frames in common that appear to encode structural proteins involved in interaction with the host and which may have been acquired by horizontal transfer. These proteins are predicted to encode tail baseplate proteins, tail fibers, tail fiber assembly proteins, and glycanases that cleave hostmore »exopolysaccharide. IMPORTANCE Despite recent advances in the phylogenetic and structural characterization of bacteriophages, only a small number of phages of plant-symbiotic nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria have been studied at the molecular level. The effects of phage predation upon beneficial bacteria that promote plant growth remain poorly characterized. First steps in understanding these soil bacterium-phage dynamics are genetic, molecular, and structural characterizations of these groups of phages. The T4 superfamily phages are among the most complex phages; they have large genomes packaged within an icosahedral head and a long, contractile tail through which the DNA is delivered to host cells. This phylogenetic and structural study of S. meliloti -infecting T4 superfamily phage ΦM9 provides new insight into the diversity of this family. The comparison of structure-related genes in both ΦM9 and S. meliloti -infecting T4 superfamily phage ΦM12, which comes from a completely different lineage of these phages, allows the identification of host infection-related factors.« less
  4. Leguminous plants form symbiotic relationships with rhizobia. These nitrogen-fixing bacteria live in specialized root organs called nodules. While rhizobia form the most notable host relationship within root nodules, other bacterial endophytes also inhabit these root nodules and can influence host-rhizobia interactions as well as exert effects of their own, whether beneficial or detrimental. In this study, we investigate differences in nodule communities between genotypes (A17 and R108) of a single plant species, the model legume Medicago truncatula. While diversity of endophytes in nodules was similar across hosts, both nodule endophyte composition and gene functional groups differed. In contrast to the significant direct effect of host genotype, neither the presence nor identity of a host in the previous generation (either A17 or R108) had a significant effect on the nodule endophyte diversity or composition. However, whether or not a host was present altered gene functional groups. We conclude that genetic variation within a legume host species can play an important role in the establishment of nodule microbiomes. Further studies, including GWAS and functional assays, can open the door for engineering and optimizing nodule endophyte communities that promote growth or have other beneficial qualities.
  5. Bordenstein, Seth (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Encounters among bacteria and their viral predators (bacteriophages) are among the most common ecological interactions on Earth. These encounters are likely to occur with regularity inside surface-bound communities that microbes most often occupy in natural environments. Such communities, termed biofilms, are spatially constrained: interactions become limited to near neighbors, diffusion of solutes and particulates can be reduced, and there is pronounced heterogeneity in nutrient access and physiological state. It is appreciated from prior theoretical work that phage-bacteria interactions are fundamentally different in spatially structured contexts, as opposed to well-mixed liquid culture. Spatially structured communities are predicted to promote the protection of susceptible host cells from phage exposure, and thus weaken selection for phage resistance. The details and generality of this prediction in realistic biofilm environments, however, are not known. Here, we explore phage-host interactions using experiments and simulations that are tuned to represent the essential elements of biofilm communities. Our simulations show that in biofilms, phage-resistant cells—as their relative abundance increases—can protect clusters of susceptible cells from phage exposure, promoting the coexistence of susceptible and phage-resistant bacteria under a large array of conditions. We characterize the population dynamics underlying this coexistence, and we show that coexistence is recapitulated inmore »an experimental model of biofilm growth measured with confocal microscopy. Our results provide a clear view into the dynamics of phage resistance in biofilms with single-cell resolution of the underlying cell-virion interactions, linking the predictions of canonical theory to realistic models and in vitro experiments of biofilm growth. IMPORTANCE In the natural environment, bacteria most often live in communities bound to one another by secreted adhesives. These communities, or biofilms, play a central role in biogeochemical cycling, microbiome functioning, wastewater treatment, and disease. Wherever there are bacteria, there are also viruses that attack them, called phages. Interactions between bacteria and phages are likely to occur ubiquitously in biofilms. We show here, using simulations and experiments, that biofilms will in most conditions allow phage-susceptible bacteria to be protected from phage exposure, if they are growing alongside other cells that are phage resistant. This result has implications for the fundamental ecology of phage-bacteria interactions, as well as the development of phage-based antimicrobial therapeutics.« less