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Potential use of predatory bacteria as ‘a living antibiotic’

A. R. Willis, C. Moore, M. Mazon-Moya, S. Krokowski,

C. Lambert, R. Till and others

THE rise in antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections has prompted an urgent search for novel antibacterial agents. One possible approach is to use the naturally predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, which invades and kills a wide range of Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. In this study, the authors investigated using Bdellovibrio as an injected, antibacterial treatment in vivo, using zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of the human pathogen Shigella flexneri as an experimental model.

Zebrafish larvae were injected with Green Fluorescent Protein-S flexneri, followed by an injection of either phosphate-buffered saline or mCherry-Bdellovibrio 30 to 90 minutes after the initial Shigella infection. Live-cell imaging was used to measure fluorescence and microbial activity. Additional experiments to further confirm susceptibility of Shigella to Bdellovibrio predation in vivo and in vitro, and to investigate the contributions of Bdellovibrio and the host immune system to Shigella clearance, were also carried out.

Injection of zebrafish with Bdellovibrio, following an initial infection of a lethal dose of Shigella promoted pathogen killing, leading to increased zebrafish survival. Shigella-dependent replication of Bdellovibrio was captured …

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