The effect of a temperature‐sensitive prophage on the evolution of virulence in an opportunistic bacterial pathogen
Bruneaux, M., Ashrafi, R., Kronholm, I., Laanto, E., Örmälä‐Odegrip, A., Galarza, J. A., Chen, Z., Kubendran, S. M., & Ketola, T. (2022). The effect of a temperature‐sensitive prophage on the evolution of virulence in an opportunistic bacterial pathogen. Molecular Ecology, 31(20), 5402-5418. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16638
Published inMolecular Ecology
© 2022 The Authors. Molecular Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Viruses are key actors of ecosystems and have major impacts on global biogeochemical cycles. Prophages deserve particular attention as they are ubiquitous in bacterial genomes and can enter a lytic cycle when triggered by environmental conditions. We explored how temperature affects the interactions between prophages and other biological levels by using an opportunistic pathogen, the bacterium Serratia marcescens, that harbours several prophages and that had undergone an evolution experiment under several temperature regimes. We found that the release of one of the prophages was temperature-sensitive and malleable to evolutionary changes. We further discovered that the virulence of the bacterium in an insect model also evolved and was positively correlated with phage release rates. We determined through analysis of genetic and epigenetic data that changes in the bacterial outer cell wall structure possibly explain this phenomenon. We hypothezise that the temperature-dependent phage release rate acted as a selection pressure on S. marcescens and that it resulted in modified bacterial virulence in the insect host. Our study system illustrates how viruses can mediate the inuence of abiotic environmental changes to other biological levels and thus be involved in ecosystem feedback loops. ...
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Related funder(s)Academy of Finland
Funding program(s)Academy Research Fellow, AoF
Additional information about fundingThe Academy of Finland (Project 278751) and the Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions.
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