Samad, T., Billings, N., Birjiniuk, A., Crouzier, T., Ribbeck, K., Doyle, P
ISME J. 2017 Aug;11(8):1933-1937
Publication year: 2017

Swimming motility is considered a beneficial trait among bacterial species as it enables movement across fluid environments and augments invasion of tissues within the host. However, non-swimming bacteria also flourish in fluid habitats, but how they effectively spread and colonize distant ecological niches remains unclear. We show that non-motile staphylococci can gain motility by hitchhiking on swimming bacteria, leading to extended and directed motion with increased velocity. This phoretic interaction was observed between Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus epidermidis and P. aeruginosa, as well as S. aureus and Escherichia coli, suggesting hitchhiking as a general translocation mechanism for non-motile staphylococcal species. By leveraging the motility of swimming bacteria, it was observed that staphylococci can colonize new niches that are less available in the absence of swimming carriers. This work highlights the importance of considering interactions between species within polymicrobial communities, in which bacteria can utilize each other as resources.

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