The airways of individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF) are abundantly colonised by Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Co-infecting hypoxic regions of static mucus within CF airways, together with decreases in pulmonary function, mucus plugging and oxygen consumption by host neutrophils gives rise to regions of anoxia. This study determined the impact of anaerobiosis upon S. aureus-P. aeruginosa interactions in planktonic co-culture and mixed species biofilms in vitro. Whilst anoxia reduced the ability for P. aeruginosa CF isolates to dominate over S. aureus, this occurred in an isolate dependent manner. Investigations into the underlying mechanisms suggest that the anti-staphylococcal compound facilitating P. aeruginosa dominance under normoxia and anoxia is greater than 3 kDa in size and is heat-stable. Not all interspecies interactions studied were antagonistic, as S. aureus exoproducts were shown to restore and enhance P. aeruginosa motility under normoxia and anoxia in an isolate dependent manner. Collectively, this study suggests changes in oxygen availability within regions of the CF lung is likely to influence interspecies interactions and in turn, potentially influence disease progression.
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Funding: We gratefully acknowledge the Humane Research Trust for funding LJM and RP for this research. We also acknowledge support for IM and AD from BBSRC (BB/M006298/1).