Scientific article
Open access

Heme cross-feeding can augment Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis dual species biofilms

Published inThe ISME journal, vol. 16, no. 8, p. 2015-2026
Publication date2022-08
First online date2022-05-19

The contribution of biofilms to virulence and as a barrier to treatment is well-established for Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis, both nosocomial pathogens frequently isolated from biofilm-associated infections. Despite frequent co-isolation, their interactions in biofilms have not been well-characterized. We report that in combination, these two species can give rise to augmented biofilms biomass that is dependent on the activation of E. faecalis aerobic respiration. In E. faecalis, respiration requires both exogenous heme to activate the cydAB-encoded heme-dependent cytochrome bd, and the availability of O2. We determined that the ABC transporter encoded by cydDC contributes to heme import. In dual species biofilms, S. aureus provides the heme to activate E. faecalis respiration. S. aureus mutants deficient in heme biosynthesis were unable to augment biofilms whereas heme alone is sufficient to augment E. faecalis mono-species biofilms. Our results demonstrate that S. aureus-derived heme, likely in the form of released hemoproteins, promotes E. faecalis biofilm formation, and that E. faecalis gelatinase activity facilitates heme extraction from hemoproteins. This interspecies interaction and metabolic cross-feeding may explain the frequent co-occurrence of these microbes in biofilm-associated infections.

  • Biofilms
  • Enterococcus faecalis / genetics
  • Heme
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Virulence
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
CH’NG, Jun-Hong et al. Heme cross-feeding can augment Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis dual species biofilms. In: The ISME journal, 2022, vol. 16, n° 8, p. 2015–2026. doi: 10.1038/s41396-022-01248-1
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ISSN of the journal1751-7362

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