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Bacteria have the potential to translocate between sites in the human body, but the dynamics and consequences of within-host bacterial migration remain poorly understood. Here we investigate the link between gut and lung Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations in an intensively sampled ICU patient using a combination of genomics, isolate phenotyping, host immunity profiling, and clinical data. Crucially, we show that lung colonization in the ICU was driven by the translocation of P. aeruginosa from the gut. Meropenem treatment for a suspected urinary tract infection selected for elevated resistance in both the gut and lung. However, resistance was driven by parallel evolution in the gut and lung coupled with organ specific selective pressures, and translocation had only a minor impact on AMR. These findings suggest that reducing intestinal colonization of Pseudomonas may be an effective way to prevent lung infections in critically ill patients.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





University of Oxford, Department of Biology, Oxford, UK.


Lung, Humans, Bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Intensive Care Units, Meropenem