Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium uses anaerobic respiration to overcome propionate-mediated colonization resistance.


The gut microbiota benefits the host by limiting enteric pathogen expansion (colonization resistance), partially via the production of inhibitory metabolites. Propionate, a short-chain fatty acid produced by microbiota members, is proposed to mediate colonization resistance against Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Tm). Here, we show that S. Tm overcomes the inhibitory effects of propionate by using it as a carbon source for anaerobic respiration. We determine that propionate metabolism provides an inflammation-dependent colonization advantage to S. Tm during infection. Such benefit is abolished in the intestinal lumen of Salmonella-infected germ-free mice. Interestingly, S. Tm propionate-mediated intestinal expansion is restored when germ-free mice are monocolonized with Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (B. theta), a prominent propionate producer in the gut, but not when mice are monocolonized with a propionate-production-deficient B. theta strain. Taken together, our results reveal a strategy used by S. Tm to mitigate colonization resistance by metabolizing microbiota-derived propionate.