Bacteria Facilitate Enteric Virus Co-infection of Mammalian Cells and Promote Genetic Recombination

Andrea K. Erickson, Palmy R. Jesudhasan, Melinda J. Mayer, Arjan Narbad, Sebastian E. Winter, Julie K. Pfeiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


RNA viruses exist in genetically diverse populations due to high levels of mutations, many of which reduce viral fitness. Interestingly, intestinal bacteria can promote infection of several mammalian enteric RNA viruses, but the mechanisms and consequences are unclear. We screened a panel of 41 bacterial strains as a platform to determine how different bacteria impact infection of poliovirus, a model enteric virus. Most bacterial strains, including those extracted from cecal contents of mice, bound poliovirus, with each bacterium binding multiple virions. Certain bacterial strains increased viral co-infection of mammalian cells even at a low virus-to-host cell ratio. Bacteria-mediated viral co-infection correlated with bacterial adherence to cells. Importantly, bacterial strains that induced viral co-infection facilitated genetic recombination between two different viruses, thereby removing deleterious mutations and restoring viral fitness. Thus, bacteria-virus interactions may increase viral fitness through viral recombination at initial sites of infection, potentially limiting abortive infections. Enteric viruses rely on intestinal bacteria for replication and transmission. By screening a diverse panel of bacterial strains, Erickson et al. demonstrate that bacteria differentially bind poliovirus and that some bacterial strains promote viral co-infection and genetic recombination, thus enhancing viral fitness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-88.e5
JournalCell Host and Microbe
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2018


  • bacteria
  • co-infection
  • enteric virus
  • evolution
  • fitness
  • microbiota
  • poliovirus
  • recombination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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