Pseudomonas aeruginosa inhibits Rhizopus microsporus germination through sequestration of free environmental iron

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Rhizopus spp are the most common etiological agents of mucormycosis, causing over 90% mortality in disseminated infection. Key to pathogenesis is the ability of fungal spores to swell, germinate, and penetrate surrounding tissues. Antibiotic treatment in at-risk patients increases the probability of the patient developing mucormycosis, suggesting that bacteria have the potential to control the growth of the fungus. However, research into polymicrobial relationships involving Rhizopus spp has not been extensively explored. Here we show that co-culturing Rhizopus microsporus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa results in the inhibition of spore germination. This inhibition was mediated via the secretion of bacterial siderophores, which induced iron stress on the fungus. Addition of P. aeruginosa siderophores to R. microsporus spores in the zebrafish larval model of infection resulted in inhibition of fungal germination and reduced host mortality. Therefore, during infection antibacterial treatment may relieve bacterial imposed nutrient restriction resulting in secondary fungal infections.


Original languageEnglish
Article number5714
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date5 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019