Host imprints on bacterial genomes-rapid, divergent evolution in individual patients

Jaroslaw Zdziarski, Elzbieta Brzuszkiewicz, Björn Wullt, Heiko Liesegang, Dvora Biran, Birgit Voigt, Jenny Grönberg-Hernandez, Bryndis Ragnarsdottir, Michael Hecker, Eliora Z. Ron, Rolf Daniel, Gerhard Gottschalk, Jörg Hacker, Catharina Svanborg, Ulrich Dobrindt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bacteria lose or gain genetic material and through selection, new variants become fixed in the population. Here we provide the first, genome-wide example of a single bacterial strain's evolution in different deliberately colonized patients and the surprising insight that hosts appear to personalize their microflora. By first obtaining the complete genome sequence of the prototype asymptomatic bacteriuria strain E. coli 83972 and then resequencing its descendants after therapeutic bladder colonization of different patients, we identified 34 mutations, which affected metabolic and virulence-related genes. Further transcriptome and proteome analysis proved that these genome changes altered bacterial gene expression resulting in unique adaptation patterns in each patient. Our results provide evidence that, in addition to stochastic events, adaptive bacterial evolution is driven by individual host environments. Ongoing loss of gene function supports the hypothesis that evolution towards commensalism rather than virulence is favored during asymptomatic bladder colonization.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1001078
Pages (from-to)95-96
Number of pages2
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


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