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Evolutionary ecology of social bacterial populations under antibiotic and bacteriophage pressure

Abstract : Bacteria are the basis of virtually all ecosystems and examining their dynamics in the face of biotic and abiotic perturbations is essential to understanding their persistence, evolution and diversification. This thesis is directed towards a better understanding of the impact of phage and antibiotic pressure on the evolutionary ecology of bacterial populations and, in particular, on the evolution of bacterial social behaviours. First, using a combination of mathematical modelling and experimental evolution, we studied how antagonisms in the form of antibiotics (Chapters 1 and 2) and phages (Chapter 3) affect the dynamics of public goods production and strategies, and the evolution of resistance in populations of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We found that both phages and antibiotics favour cheats over cooperators in well-mixed environments. While the advantage to cheats leads to population growth and even increased resistance frequency in the short-term (Chapter 1), the cheat-dominated populations eventually declined in the presence of phage predators, arguably due to the combination of antagonist pressure and cheating load (Chapter 3). Second, based on the evolutionary prediction that multiple control agents will be more efficient at controlling bacterial populations and reducing the evolution of resistance, we investigated in vitro the complex interactions between phages and antibiotics in the context of combined therapies. We showed that the combination of phages and antibiotics decreased population survival and resistance evolution significantly more than either alone. While this main result may be mitigated by several factors such as antibiotic dose (Chapters 4 and 5), the timing of inoculation (Chapter 4), and antibiotic mode of action (Chapter 5), it is also obtained in longer-term assays (Chapter 5). Our results highlight the complexity of the interplay between the negative effects exerted by antibiotics and phages and the evolutionary ecology of bacterial populations, and bring new insights both to the understanding of social evolution and for the potential therapeutic use of phages and antibiotics.
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Marie Vasse. Evolutionary ecology of social bacterial populations under antibiotic and bacteriophage pressure. Bacteriology. Université Montpellier, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015MONTS041⟩. ⟨tel-02945608⟩

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