Research ArticleMICROBIOLOGY

Manipulation of host and parasite microbiotas: Survival strategies during chronic nematode infection

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Science Advances  14 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaap7399
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap7399

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Abstract

Intestinal dwelling parasites have evolved closely with the complex intestinal microbiota of their host, but the significance of the host microbiota for metazoan pathogens and the role of their own intestinal microbiota are still not fully known. We have found that the parasitic nematode Trichuris muris acquired a distinct intestinal microbiota from its host, which was required for nematode fitness. Infection of germ-free mice and mice monocolonized with Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron demonstrated that successful T. muris infections require a host microbiota. Following infection, T. muris–induced alterations in the host intestinal microbiota inhibited subsequent rounds of infection, controlling parasite numbers within the host intestine. This dual strategy could promote the long-term survival of the parasite within the intestinal niche necessary for successful chronic nematode infection.

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