Competitive inhibition and mutualistic growth in Co infections: deciphering Staphylococcus aureus – Acinetobacter baumannii interaction dynamics

Timme S*, Wendler S*, Klassert TE, Saraiva JP, Nunes da Rocha U, Wittchen M, Schramm S, Ehricht R, Monecke S, Edel B, Rödel J, Löffler B, Soledad Ramirez M, Slevogt H, Figge MT*#, Tuchscherr L*#


Staphylococcus aureus (Sa) and Acinetobacter baumannii (Ab) are frequently co-isolated from polymicrobial infections that are severe and refractory to therapy. Here, we apply a combination of wet-lab experiments and in silico modeling to unveil the intricate nature of the Ab/Sa interaction using both, representative laboratory strains and strains co-isolated from clinical samples.
This comprehensive methodology allowed uncovering Sa‘s capability to exert a partial interference on Ab by the expression of phenol-soluble modulins. In addition, we observed a cross-feeding mechanism by which Sa supports the growth of Ab by providing acetoin as an alternative carbon source.
This study is the first to dissect the Ab/Sa interaction dynamics wherein competitive and cooperative strategies can intertwine. Through our findings, we illuminate the ecological mechanisms supporting their coexistence in the context of polymicrobial infections. Our research not only enriches our understanding but also opens doors to potential therapeutic avenues in managing these challenging infections.

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