Virus Infection of Aspergillus fumigatus Compromises the Fungus in Intermicrobial Competition

Hasan Nazik, Ioly Kotta Loizou, Gabriele Sass, Robert Coutts, David Stevens

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Aspergillus and Pseudomonas compete in nature, and are the commonest bacterial and fungal pathogens in some clinical settings, such as the cystic fibrosis lung. Virus infections of fungi occur naturally. Effects on fungal physiology need delineation. A common reference Aspergillus fumigatus strain, long studied in two (of many) laboratories, was found infected with the AfuPmV-1 virus. One isolate was cured of virus, producing a virus-free strain. Virus from the infected strain was purified and used to re-infect three subcultures of the virus-free fungus, producing six fungal strains, otherwise isogenic. They were studied in intermicrobial competition with Pseudomonasaeruginosa. Pseudomonas culture filtrates inhibited forming or preformed Aspergillus biofilm from infected strains to a greater extent, also seen when Pseudomonas volatiles were assayed on Aspergillus. Purified iron-chelating Pseudomonas molecules, known inhibitors of Aspergillus biofilm, reproduced these differences. Iron, a stimulus of Aspergillus, enhanced the virus-free fungus, compared to infected. All infected fungal strains behaved similarly in assays. We show an important consequence of virus infection, a weakening in intermicrobial competition. Viral infection may affect the outcome of bacterial-fungal competition in nature and patients. We suggest that this occurs via alteration in fungal stress responses, the mechanism best delineated here is a result of virus-induced altered Aspergillus iron metabolism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number686
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2021


  • mycovirus
  • Aspergillus fumigatus
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Aspergillus
  • Intermicrobial competition
  • Pseudomonas
  • Fungal virus
  • Aspergillus fumigatus/physiology
  • Host Microbial Interactions/physiology
  • Biofilms/drug effects
  • Fungal Viruses/pathogenicity
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa/growth & development
  • Culture Media/chemistry
  • Iron/metabolism
  • Microbial Interactions


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