It was shown, in the zebrafish model, that phagocytes play an important role in controlling S. aureus infection (Prajsnar et al. 2008). However this can lead to an immunological bottleneck whereby clonal expansion of a few bacteria from the initial inoculum founds a systemic infection (Prajsnar et al. 2012). Using mixed-strain infection we have demonstrated that a sub-curative dose of antibiotic favours the selection of resistant bacteria through the immunological bottleneck (McVicker et al. 2014).
Our most recent data indicate that attenuated strains of S. aureus can potentially act synergistically with virulent strains in order to mount a fatal infection. The zebrafish model provides an amenable framework in which to test host and pathogen components involved in these disease mechanisms and to identify potential breakpoints for intervention.