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    Bacteriophage-mediated competition in Bordetella bacteria

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    Apparent competition between species is believed to be one of the principle driving forces that structure ecological communities, although the precise mecha nisms have yet to be characterized. Here we develop a model system that isolates phage-mediated interactions by neutralizing resource competition using two genetically identical Bordetella bronchiseptica strains that differ only in that one is the carrier of a phage and the other is susceptible to the phage. We observe and quantify the competitive advantage of the bacterial strain bearing the prophage in both invading and in resisting invasion by bacteria susceptible to the phage, and use our measurements to develop a mathematical model of phage-mediated competition. The model predicts, and experimental evidence confirms, that the competitive advantage conferred by the phage depends only on the relative phage pathology and is independent of other phage and host parameters. This work combines experimental and mathematical approaches to the study of phage-driven competition, and provides an experimentally tested framework for evaluation of the effects of pathogens/parasites on interspecific competition.Comment: 10pages, 8 figure