When infecting microorganisms begin to invade the host’s body, the immune system sends out an army of immune cells to consume and destroy them. It’s thought that some types of bugs could exploit this immune response to help other species co-infect. Candida albicans (a fungus) and Staphylococcus aureus (a bacterium) – often identified in polymicrobial infections and the cause of serious disease – are an example of this. Researchers witnessed a hypha [a growing filament] of C. albicans piercing through a macrophage (the immune cells pictured) after it had been engulfed (false-coloured purple), and S. aureus (pictured in green) was observed co-escaping from the macrophage because of its attraction to the hyphae. This interaction between two different microorganisms gives insight into a complex relationship worthy of further research, as it could not only help our understanding of the immune response, but also help produce new treatment options for patients.
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