Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 17, pp 7041–7054 | Cite as

Selective antimicrobial activity of cell lytic enzymes in a bacterial consortium

  • Amala Bhagwat
  • Cynthia H. CollinsEmail author
  • Jonathan S. DordickEmail author
Biotechnologically relevant enzymes and proteins


The role that the complex microbial communities play in human and environmental health cannot be understated. The increased information about community complexity, as well as the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics, suggest that new approaches to target specific organisms within a community context are essential towards new antimicrobial therapies. Here, we have assessed the activity and selectivity of two cell wall lytic enzymes, lysostaphin (Lst) and PlyPH, in the presence of multiple bacteria and under varied media conditions. Lst and PlyPH target the clinically relevant pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus, respectively. Lst was effective under all conditions resulting in ~ 4-log and ~ 3-log reduction at 100 μg/mL in actively growing monoculture and co-culture, respectively. PlyPH was also selective but less active and more susceptible to media and cell population changes. Lst and PlyPH activities could be increased in supernatants from actively growing cultures in the presence of a protease inhibitor cocktail, suggesting a possible role played by proteases secreted during cell growth in reducing lytic enzyme activity. This work demonstrates the utility of cell wall lytic enzymes for targeted pathogen killing or microbial community remodeling.


Lysostaphin PlyPH Selective antimicrobial activity Microbial community Skin microbiome Cell lytic enzymes 


Funding information

This study was financially supported by the Global Research Laboratory Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT (2014K1A1A2043032), and Colgate-Palmolive Company.

Compliance with ethical standards

This work does not contain any studies with humans or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

253_2019_9955_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (4 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 4144 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary StudiesRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical EngineeringRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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