Nature. 2022 Nov 16. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05438-x. Online ahead of print.
Enteric pathogens are exposed to a dynamic polymicrobial environment in the gastrointestinal tract1. This microbial community has been shown to be important during infection, but there are few examples illustrating how microbial interactions can influence the virulence of invading pathogens2. Here we show that expansion of a group of antibiotic-resistant, opportunistic pathogens in the gut-the enterococci-enhances the fitness and pathogenesis of Clostridioides difficile. Through a parallel process of nutrient restriction and cross-feeding, enterococci shape the metabolic environment in the gut and reprogramme C. difficile metabolism. Enterococci provide fermentable amino acids, including leucine and ornithine, which increase C. difficile fitness in the antibiotic-perturbed gut. Parallel depletion of arginine by enterococci through arginine catabolism provides a metabolic cue for C. difficile that facilitates increased virulence. We find evidence of microbial interaction between these two pathogenic organisms in multiple mouse models of infection and patients infected with C. difficile. These findings provide mechanistic insights into the role of pathogenic microbiota in the susceptibility to and the severity of C. difficile infection.