Cross-protection and cross-feeding between Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii promotes their co-existence

Lucie Semenec, Amy K. Cain, Catherine J. Dawson, Qi Liu, Hue Dinh, Hannah Lott, Anahit Penesyan, Ram Maharjan, Francesca L. Short, Karl A. Hassan*, Ian T. Paulsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Acinetobacter baumannii and Klebsiella pneumoniae are opportunistic pathogens frequently co-isolated from polymicrobial infections. The infections where these pathogens co-exist can be more severe and recalcitrant to therapy than infections caused by either species alone, however there is a lack of knowledge on their potential synergistic interactions. In this study we characterise the genomes of A. baumannii and K. pneumoniae strains co-isolated from a single human lung infection. We examine various aspects of their interactions through transcriptomic, phenomic and phenotypic assays that form a basis for understanding their effects on antimicrobial resistance and virulence during co-infection. Using co-culturing and analyses of secreted metabolites, we discover the ability of K. pneumoniae to cross-feed A. baumannii by-products of sugar fermentation. Minimum inhibitory concentration testing of mono- and co-cultures reveals the ability for A. baumannii to cross-protect K. pneumoniae against the cephalosporin, cefotaxime. Our study demonstrates distinct syntrophic interactions occur between A. baumannii and K. pneumoniae, helping to elucidate the basis for their co-existence in polymicrobial infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number702
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023

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Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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