An intracellular replication niche for Vibrio cholerae in the amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii
Vibrio cholerae is a human pathogen and the causative agent of cholera. The persistence of this bacterium in aquatic environments is a key epidemiological concern, as cholera is transmitted through contaminated water. Predatory protists, such as amoebae, are major regulators of bacterial populations in such environments. Therefore, we investigated the interaction between V. cholerae and the amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii at the single-cell level. We observed that V. cholerae can resist intracellular killing. The non-digested bacteria were either released or, alternatively, established a replication niche within the contractile vacuole of A. castellanii. V. cholerae was maintained within this compartment even upon encystment. The pathogen ultimately returned to its aquatic habitat through lysis of A. castellanii, a process that was dependent on the production of extracellular polysaccharide by the pathogen. This study reinforces the concept that V. cholerae is a facultative intracellular bacterium and describes a new host–pathogen interaction.