Funding body: CSIC Special Intramural Projects 2015
Title: Spatial confinement of bacterial physiology in Staphylococcus aureus.
The pathogen Staphylococcus aureus develops bacterial communities called biofilms that are constituted by a heterogeneous subpopulation of cells specialized in the production of particular physiological traits that contribute to biofilm development. The distinct subpopulations of cells are spatially confined within the biofilms and therefore, they define micro-scale regions in the biofilm that are enriched in one particular subpopulation of cells. This project aims to investigate whether biofilms of Staphylococcus aureus that show discrete regions of enriched subpopulation of cells are also specialized in the production of one physiological trait and moreover, how this spatial confinement of the microbial physiology benefits the development of the community and the progression of an bacterial infection. We will perform experiments in vitro (using a murine infection model) and vitro (using a biofilm formation approach) to: 1) define the distinct regions of the biofilms and characterize the particular trait in which they are specialized to produce. 2) Investigate biofilm organization in diverse mutants to unravel the underlying genetic regulation of spatial confinement. 3) To characterize whether spatial confinement occurs in in vivo infections and whether this is relevant for the development of an infection. In sum, this project will demonstrate that biofilms of S. aureus are complex, heterogeneous and organized microbial communities and this organization is physiologically relevant for the development of an infection therefore, targeting biofilm organization could be exploited as a new strategy to fight against microbial infections and antibiotic resistance.