Chapter 7 : Competitive and Cooperative Interactions in the Respiratory Microflora

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This chapter reviews aspects of interaction among the members of the respiratory microflora by considering relevant laboratory models and examples of both cooperation and competition. In general, the author focuses on the anatomic area between the nasal mucosa and the epiglottis, where several bacterial species coexist and may cocolonize for extended periods. The lower airway, below the epiglottis, is a sterile environment under normal conditions. In contrast, another neighbor of the nasopharynx, the oral cavity, is home to literally hundreds of distinct species of bacteria. Specific data regarding the anatomic localization of colonizing bacteria in the nasopharynx and the relative burdens of each species are limited; however, evolving concepts of interaction among the members of the commensal flora are furthering one's understanding of carriage. Evidence from colonization rates of children transferred from other nurseries suggested that the latter was the more likely possibility, so the investigators took the striking approach of directly testing the phenomenon of bacterial interference. In addition, many of the members of the upper respiratory flora are auxotrophs. Competition for nutrients among members of mixed bacterial populations has been proposed. Artificial alteration of colonization through vaccination or antibiotic therapy may disrupt the ecological balance in this microenvironment and have unintended consequences. Further research in this area, especially if relevant in vivo models are employed, will contribute to one's evolving understanding of the ecology of the upper respiratory tract.

Citation: Ratner A. 2005. Competitive and Cooperative Interactions in the Respiratory Microflora, p 87-96. In Nataro J, Cohen P, Mobley H, Weiser J (ed), Colonization of Mucosal Surfaces. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817619.ch7

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Table 1

Mechanisms of pathogenesis in polymicrobial disease

Citation: Ratner A. 2005. Competitive and Cooperative Interactions in the Respiratory Microflora, p 87-96. In Nataro J, Cohen P, Mobley H, Weiser J (ed), Colonization of Mucosal Surfaces. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817619.ch7

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