colonizes the respiratory tract of patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). It competes with CF-associated pathogens, such as and , and contributes to disease severity. We serially recovered 160 clinical isolates over a period of 30 months from the sputum of 23 pediatric and 2 adult antifungal-naive CF patients at Children’s Hospital Tunis and characterized the genotype and phenotype of a subset of strains using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and growth assays on multiple stress-, filamentous growth- and biofilm-inducing media. Out of 16 patients regularly sampled for at least 9 months, 8 and 4 were chronically and transiently colonized with , respectively. MLST analyses of 56 strains originating from 15 patients indicated that each patient was colonized with a single strain, while 8 patients (53%) carried isolates from clade 4 known to be enriched with strains from Middle East-Africa. A subset of these isolates with the same sequence type and colonizing 3 unrelated patients displayed altered susceptibility to cell wall-perturbing agents, suggesting changes in cell wall structure/function during growth in the CF lung. We also observed differential ability to filament and/or form biofilms in a set of identical isolates from clade 10 sampled over a period of 9 months in a pediatric CF patient, suggesting alterations in phenotypes associated with virulence. Our findings will rely on future whole-genome sequencing analyses to identify polymorphisms that could explain the emergence of new traits in strains thriving in the CF host environment.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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