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    Negative frequency-dependent selection is one possible mechanism for maintenance of rare species in communities, but the selective advantage of rare species may be checked at lower overall population densities where resources are abundant. Gardnerella spp. belonging to cpn60 subgroup D, are detected at low levels in vaginal microbiomes and are nutritional generalists relative to other more abundant Gardnerella spp., making them good candidates for negative frequency-dependent selection. The vaginal microbiome is a dynamic environment, and the resulting changes in density of the microbiota may explain why subgroup D never gains dominance. To test this, we co-cultured subgroup D isolates with isolates from the more common and abundant subgroup C. Deep amplicon sequencing of rpoB was used to determine proportional abundance of each isolate at 0 h and 72 h in 152 co-cultures and to calculate change in proportion. D isolates had a positive change in proportional abundance in most co-cultures regardless of initial proportion. Initial density affected the change in proportion of subgroup D isolates either positively or negatively depending on the particular isolates combined, suggesting that growth rate, population density and other intrinsic features of the isolates influenced the outcome. Our results demonstrate that population density is an important factor influencing the outcome of competition between Gardnerella spp. isolated from the human vaginal microbiome. © 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


    Salahuddin Khan, Janet E Hill. Population Density Affects the Outcome of Competition in Co-cultures of Gardnerella Species Isolated from the Human Vaginal Microbiome. Microbial ecology. 2022 Jan;83(1):236-245

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    PMID: 33782710

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