Cruz-Loya, Mauricio; Elif Tekin; Tina Manzhu Kang; Natalya Cardona; Natalie Lozano-Huntelman; Alejandra Rodriguez-Verdugo; Van M. Savage and Pamela J. Yeh
Abstract: Temperature variation-through time and across climatic gradients-affects individuals, populations, and communities. Yet how the thermal response of biological systems is altered by environmental stressors is poorly understood. Here, we quantify two key features-optimal temperature and temperature breadth-to investigate how temperature responses vary in the presence of antibiotics. We use high-throughput screening to measure growth of Escherichia coli under single and pairwise combinations of 12 antibiotics across seven temperatures that range from 22 degrees C to 46 degrees C. We find that antibiotic stress often results in considerable changes in the optimal temperature for growth and a narrower temperature breadth. The direction of the optimal temperature shifts can be explained by the similarities between antibiotic-induced and temperature-induced damage to the physiology of the bacterium. We also find that the effects of pairs of stressors in the temperature response can often be explained by just one antibiotic out of the pair. Our study has implications for a general understanding of how ecological systems adapt and evolve to environmental changes. IMPORTANCE The growth of living organisms varies with temperature. This dependence is described by a temperature response curve that is described by an optimal temperature where growth is maximized and a temperature range (termed breadth) across which the organism can grow. Because an organism's temperature response evolves or acclimates to its environment, it is often assumed to change over only evolutionary or developmental timescales. Counter to this, we show here that antibiotics can quickly (over hours) change the optimal growth temperature and temperature breadth for the bacterium Escherichia coli. Moreover, our results suggest a shared-damage hypothesis: when an antibiotic damages similar cellular components as hot (or cold) temperatures do, this shared damage will combine and compound to more greatly reduce growth when that antibiotic is administered at hot (or cold) temperatures. This hypothesis could potentially also explain how temperature responses are modified by stressors other than antibiotics.