Journal Article

Transient negative effects of antibiotics on phages do not jeopardise the advantages of combination therapies

Clara Torres-Barceló, James Gurney, Claire Gougat-Barberá, Marie Vasse and Michael E Hochberg

in FEMS Microbiology Ecology

Volume 94, issue 8 ISSN: 0168-6496
Published online June 2018 | e-ISSN: 1574-6941 | DOI:

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  • Soil Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics and Genomics
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular and Cell Biology


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Phages, the viruses of bacteria, have been proposed as antibacterial agents to complement or replace antibiotics due to the growing problem of resistance. In nature and in the clinic, antibiotics are ubiquitous and may affect phages indirectly via impacts on bacterial hosts. Even if the synergistic association of phages and antibiotics has been shown in several studies, the focus is often on bacteria with little known about the impact on phages. Evolutionary studies have demonstrated that time scale is an important factor in understanding the consequences of antimicrobial strategies, but this perspective is generally overlooked in phage-antibiotic combination studies. Here, we explore the effects of antibiotics on phages targeting the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We go beyond previous studies by testing the interaction between several types of antibiotics and phages, and evaluate the effects on several important phage parameters during 8 days of experimental co-evolution with bacteria. Our study reveals that antibiotics had a negative effect on phage density and efficacy early on, but not in the later stages of the experiment. The results indicate that antibiotics can affect phage adaptation, but that phages can nevertheless contribute to managing antibiotic resistance levels.

Keywords: phage therapy; P. aeruginosa; antibiotic resistance; experimental evolution; virulence

Journal Article.  5887 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Soil Science ; Biotechnology ; Genetics and Genomics ; Microbiology ; Molecular and Cell Biology

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