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Microbe-metabolite associations linked to the rebounding murine gut microbiome post-colonization with vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecium

By Andre Mu, Glen P Carter, Lucy Li, Nicole S. Isles, Alison F Vrbanac, James T. Morton, David P De Souza, Vinod K Narayana, Komal Kanojia, Brunda Nijagal, Malcolm J. McConville, Rob Knight, Benjamin P. Howden, Tim P. Stinear

Posted 21 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/849539

Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) is an emerging antibiotic resistant pathogen. Strain-level investigations are beginning to reveal the molecular mechanisms used by VREfm to colonize regions of the human bowel. However, the role of commensal bacteria during VREfm colonization, in particular following antibiotic treatment, remains largely unknown. We employed amplicon 16S rRNA gene sequencing and metabolomics in a murine model system to try and investigate functional roles of the gut microbiome during VREfm colonization. First-order taxonomic shifts in gut microbial community composition were detected both in response to pretreatment using ceftriaxone, and to subsequent VREfm challenge. Using neural networking approaches to find co-occurrence profiles of bacteria and metabolites, we detected key metabolome features during and after VREfm colonization. These metabolite features were associated with Bacteroides, indicative of a transition towards a pre-antibiotic naive microbiome. This study shows the impacts of antibiotics on the gut ecosystem, and the progression of the microbiome in response to colonisation with VREfm. Our results offer insights towards identifying potential non-antibiotic alternatives to eliminate VREfm through metabolic re-engineering to preferentially select for Bacteroides. Importance: This study demonstrates the importance and power of linking bacterial composition profiling with metabolomics to find the interactions between commensal gut bacteria and a specific pathogen. Knowledge from this research will inform gut microbiome engineering strategies, with the aim of translating observations from animal models to human-relevant therapeutic applications.

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