Acanthamoeba castellanii interactions with Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes

Ruqaiyyah Siddiqui*, Timothy Yu Yee Ong, Suk-Yul Jung, Naveed Ahmed Khan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Among the genus Streptococcus, S. pyogenes and S. pneumoniae are the major causes of pharyngitis, impetigo, pneumonia and meningitis in humans. Streptococcus spp. are facultative anaerobes that are nutritionally fastidious, yet survive in the environment and target the predisposed population. Antibacterial disinfectants have been partially effective only, indicating the need for novel preventative measures and to understand mechanisms of bacterial resistance. Acanthamoeba is a free-living protist that is known to harbour microbial pathogens, provide shelter, and assist in their transmission to susceptible population. The overall aim of this study was to determine whether S. pyogenes and S. pneumoniae can interact with A. castellanii by associating, invading, and surviving inside trophozoites and cysts. It was observed that both S. pyogenes and S. pneumoniae were able to associate as well as invade and/or taken up by the phagocytic A. castellanii trophozoite. Notably, S. pyogenes and S. pneumoniae survived the encystation process, avoided phagocytosis, multiplied, and exhibited higher recovery from the mature cysts, compared with the trophozoite stage (approximately 2 bacteria per amoebae ratio for cyst stage versus 0.02 bacteria per amoeba ration for trophozoite stage). As Acanthamoeba cysts are resilient and can disperse through the air, A. castellanii can act as a vector in providing shelter, facilitating growth and possibly genetic exchanges. In addition, these interactions may contribute to S. pyogenes and S. pneumoniae survival in harsh environments, and transmission to susceptible population and possibly affecting their virulence. Future studies will determine the molecular mechanisms associated with Acanthamoeba interactions with Streptococcus and the evolution of pathogenic bacteria and in turn expedite the discovery of novel therapeutic and/or preventative measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-132
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Parasitology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • acanthamoeba
  • streptococcus
  • association
  • invasion
  • survival
  • encystation


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