Fitness effects of plasmids shape the structure of bacteria-plasmid interaction networks

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Arthur Newbury - , University of Exeter (Autor:in)
  • Beth Dawson - , University of Exeter (Autor:in)
  • Uli Klümper - , Professur für Limnologie (Gewässerökologie), Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, ImQuest Biosciences (Autor:in)
  • Elze Hesse - , University of Exeter (Autor:in)
  • Meaghan Castledine - , University of Exeter (Autor:in)
  • Colin Fontaine - , Centre d'écologie et des Sciences de la Conservation (Autor:in)
  • Angus Buckling - , University of Exeter (Autor:in)
  • Dirk Sanders - , University of Exeter (Autor:in)


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes are often carried on broad host range plasmids, and the spread of AMR within microbial communities will therefore depend on the structure of bacteria–plasmid networks. Empirical and theoretical studies of ecological interaction networks suggest that network structure differs between communities that are predominantly mutualistic versus antagonistic, with the former showing more generalized interactions (i.e., species interact with many others to a similar extent). This suggests that mutualistic bacteria–plasmid networks—where antibiotics are present and plasmids carry AMR genes—will be more generalized than antagonistic interactions, where plasmids do not confer benefits to their hosts. We first develop a simple theory to explain this link: fitness benefits of harboring a mutualistic symbiont promote the spread of the symbiont to other species. We find support for this theory using an experimental bacteria–symbiont (plasmid) community, where the same plasmid can be mutualistic or antagonistic depending on the presence of antibiotics. This short-term and parsimonious mechanism complements a longer-term mechanism (coevolution and stability) explaining the link between mutualistic and antagonistic interactions and network structure.


FachzeitschriftProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America : PNAS
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 31 Mai 2022

Externe IDs

Scopus 85131106131
Mendeley 94e08427-bb20-3a4a-bd9c-92d73f25c43d
unpaywall 10.1073/pnas.2118361119
ORCID /0000-0002-4169-6548/work/142247375


ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology, Bacteria/genetics, Plasmids/genetics, Symbiosis, Genetic Fitness, Models, Biological, Bacteria/drug effects, Drug Resistance, Bacterial/genetics, microbiology, plasmids, networks, ecosystems, antibiotics