Journal: FEMS Microbiology Ecology, vol. 91, 2015
International Standard Numbers:
Open Access: none
Coaggregation, the specific recognition and adherence of different microbial species, is thought to enhance biofilm formation. To date, no studies have focused on the ability of microorganisms isolated from a broad range of environments to coaggregate with each other and it is unclear whether coaggregation promotes the transmission of microorganisms between environmental niches. We aimed to evaluate the coaggregation ability of 29 bacteria and one fungus, isolated from a range of different environments, and to characterize the cell-surface polymers that mediate coaggregation between selected pairs. Strains were categorized as belonging to one of the four microbial archetypes: aquatic, broad environment, human opportunistic pathogen or human oral. A total of 23 of the 30 strains (77%) coaggregated with at least one other and 21/30 (70%) coaggregated with strains belonging to other archetypes. Nasopharyngeal bacteria belonging to the human opportunistic pathogen archetype showed the least number of coaggregations, and five Haemophilus influenzae strains did not coaggregate. Protease and sugar treatments indicated that coaggregation between strains of different archetypes was often mediated by lectin-saccharide interactions (9 of 15 evaluated pairs). In conclusion, coaggregation can occur between taxonomically disparate species isolated from discrete environments. We propose that these organisms be labeled as 'cross-environment coaggregating organisms'. The ability to coaggregate may aid species to colonize non-indigenous biofilms.