Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.12, 5437-5447, 2020
Bivariate genome-wide association study of the growth plasticity of Staphylococcus aureus in coculture with Escherichia coli
Phenotypic plasticity is the capacity to change the phenotype in response to different environments without alteration of the genotype. Despite sufficient evidence that microorganisms have a major role in the fitness and sickness of eukaryotes, there has been little research regarding microbial phenotypic plasticity. In this study, 45 strains of Staphylococcus aureus were grown for 12 days in both monoculture and in coculture with the same strain of Escherichia coli to create a competitive environment. Cell abundance was determined by quantitative PCR every 24 h, and growth curves of each S. aureus strain under the two sets of conditions were generated. Combined with whole-genome resequencing data, bivariate genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed to analyze the growth plasticity of S. aureus in coculture. Finally, 20 significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (eight annotated, seven unannotated, and five non-coding regions) were obtained, which may affect the competitive growth of S. aureus. This study advances genome-wide bacterial growth plasticity research and demonstrates the potential of bivariate GWAS for bacterial phenotypic plasticity research.