The Bacteroides fragilis pathogenicity island links virulence and strain competition

Benjamin W. Casterline, Aaron L. Hecht, Vivian M. Choi, Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The mature microbiome is a stable ecosystem that resists perturbation despite constant host exposure to exogenous microbes. However, the microbial mechanisms determining microbiome development and composition are poorly understood. We recently demonstrated that a non-toxigenic B. fragilis (NTBF) strain restricts enteric colonization by an enterotoxigenic (ETBF) strain dependent on a type VI secretion system (T6SS). We show here that a second enterotoxigenic strain is competent to colonize, dependent on the Bacteroides fragilis pathogenicity island (BFPAI). Additional data showing complex environmental regulation of the Bacteroides fragilis toxin (BFT) suggest that virulence factors may be adapted to modify the colonic niche to provide a strain-specific colonization advantage. We conclude that more complex models of host-microbe-microbiome interactions are needed to investigate this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalGut microbes
StatePublished - Jul 4 2017


  • bacteroides
  • competition
  • pathogenesis
  • secretion
  • toxin


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