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A diet-specific microbiota drives Salmonella Typhimurium to adapt its in vivo response to plant-derived substrates

Background Little is known about the complex interactions between the diet, the gut microbiota, and enteropathogens. Here, the impact of two specific diets on the composition of the mouse gut microbiota and on the transcriptional response of Salmonella Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) was analyzed in an enteritis model. Results Mice were fed for two weeks a fibre-rich, plant-based diet (PD), or a Westernized diet (WD) rich in animal fat and proteins and in simple sugars, and then infected with an invasin-negative S. Typhimurium strain ST4/74 following streptomycin-treatment. Seventy-two hours post infection, fecal pathogen loads were equal in both diet groups, suggesting that neither of the diets had negatively influenced the ability of this ST4/74 strain to colonize and proliferate in the gut at this time point. To define its diet-dependent gene expression pattern, S. Typhimurium was immunomagnetically isolated from the gut content, and its transcriptome was analyzed. A total of 66 genes were more strongly expressed in mice fed the plant-based diet. The majority of these genes was involved in metabolic functions degrading substrates of fruits and plants. Four of them are part of the gat gene cluster responsible for the uptake and metabolism of galactitol and D-tagatose. In line with this finding, 16S rRNA gene amplicon analysis revealed higher relative abundance of bacterial families able to degrade fiber and nutritive carbohydrates in PD-fed mice in comparison with those nourished with a WD. Competitive mice infection experiments performed with strain ST4/74 and ST4/74 ΔSTM3254 lacking tagatose-1,6-biphosphate aldolase, which is essential for galactitol and tagatose utilization, did not reveal a growth advantage of strain ST4/74 in the gastrointestinal tract of mice fed plant-based diet as compared to the deletion mutant. Conclusion A Westernized diet and a plant-based diet evoke distinct transcriptional responses of S. Typhimurium during infection that allows the pathogen to adapt its metabolic activities to the diet-derived nutrients. This study therefore provides new insights into the dynamic interplay between nutrient availability, indigenous gut microbiota, and proliferation of S. Typhimurium.

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