Host-to-host variation of ecological interactions in polymicrobial infections

Academic Article


  • Host-to-host variability with respect to interactions between microorganisms and multicellular hosts are commonly observed in infection and in homeostasis. However, the majority of mechanistic models used to analyze host-microorganism relationships, as well as most of the ecological theories proposed to explain coevolution of hosts and microbes, are based on averages across a host population. By assuming that observed variations are random and independent, these models overlook the role of differences between hosts. Here, we analyze mechanisms underlying host-to-host variations of bacterial infection kinetics, using the well characterized experimental infection model of polymicrobial otitis media (OM) in chinchillas, in combination with population dynamic models and a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) based inference scheme. We find that the nature of the interactions between bacterial species critically regulates host-to-host variations in these interactions. Surprisingly, seemingly unrelated phenomena, such as the efficiency of individual bacterial species in utilizing nutrients for growth, and the microbe-specific host immune response, can become interdependent in a host population. The latter finding suggests a potential mechanism that could lead to selection of specific strains of bacterial species during the coevolution of the host immune response and the bacterial species.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Physical Biology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mukherjee S; Weimer KE; Seok SC; Ray WC; Jayaprakash C; Vieland VJ; Swords WE; Das J
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 1