Development of Spatial Distribution Patterns by Biofilm Cells.
ABSTRACT: Confined spatial patterns of microbial distribution are prevalent in nature, such as in microbial mats, soil communities, and water stream biofilms. The symbiotic two-species consortium of Pseudomonas putida and Acinetobacter sp. strain C6, originally isolated from a creosote-polluted aquifer, has evolved a distinct spatial organization in the laboratory that is characterized by an increased fitness and productivity. In this consortium, P. putida is reliant on microcolonies formed by Acinetobacter sp. C6, to which it attaches. Here we describe the processes that lead to the microcolony pattern by Acinetobacter sp. C6. Ecological spatial pattern analyses revealed that the microcolonies were not entirely randomly distributed and instead were arranged in a uniform pattern. Detailed time-lapse confocal microscopy at the single-cell level demonstrated that the spatial pattern was the result of an intriguing self-organization: small multicellular clusters moved along the surface to fuse with one another to form microcolonies. This active distribution capability was dependent on environmental factors (carbon source and oxygen) and historical contingency (formation of phenotypic variants). The findings of this study are discussed in the context of species distribution patterns observed in macroecology, and we summarize observations about the processes involved in coadaptation between P. putida and Acinetobacter sp. C6. Our results contribute to an understanding of spatial species distribution patterns as they are observed in nature, as well as the ecology of engineered communities that have the potential for enhanced and sustainable bioprocessing capacity.
Project description:Conjugational transfer of the TOL plasmid (pWWO) was analyzed in a flow chamber biofilm community engaged in benzyl alcohol degradation. The community consisted of three species, Pseudomonas putida RI, Acinetobacter sp. strain C6, and an unidentified isolate, D8. Only P. putida RI could act as a recipient for the TOL plasmid. Cells carrying a chromosomally integrated lacIq gene and a lacp-gfp-tagged version of the TOL plasmid were introduced as donor strains in the biofilm community after its formation. The occurrence of plasmid-carrying cells was analyzed by viable-count-based enumeration of donors and transconjugants. Upon transfer of the plasmids to the recipient cells, expression of green fluorescence was activated as a result of zygotic induction of the gfp gene. This allowed a direct in situ identification of cells receiving the gfp-tagged version of the TOL plasmid. Our data suggest that the frequency of horizontal plasmid transfer was low, and growth (vertical transfer) of the recipient strain was the major cause of plasmid establishment in the biofilm community. Employment of scanning confocal laser microscopy on fixed biofilms, combined with simultaneous identification of P. putida cells and transconjugants by 16S rRNA hybridization and expression of green fluorescence, showed that transconjugants were always associated with noninfected P. putida RI recipient microcolonies. Pure colonies of transconjugants were never observed, indicating that proliferation of transconjugant cells preferentially took place on preexisting P. putida RI microcolonies in the biofilm.
Project description:Pseudomonas sp. strain B13 and Pseudomonas putida OUS82 were genetically tagged with the green fluorescent protein and the Discosoma sp. red fluorescent protein, and the development and dynamics occurring in flow chamber-grown two-colored monospecies or mixed-species biofilms were investigated by the use of confocal scanning laser microscopy. Separate red or green fluorescent microcolonies were formed initially, suggesting that the initial small microcolonies were formed simply by growth of substratum attached cells and not by cell aggregation. Red fluorescent microcolonies containing a few green fluorescent cells and green fluorescent microcolonies containing a few red fluorescent cells were frequently observed in both monospecies and two-species biofilms, suggesting that the bacteria moved between the microcolonies. Rapid movement of P. putida OUS82 bacteria inside microcolonies was observed before a transition from compact microcolonies to loose irregularly shaped protruding structures occurred. Experiments involving a nonflagellated P. putida OUS82 mutant suggested that the movements between and inside microcolonies were flagellum driven. The results are discussed in relation to the prevailing hypothesis that biofilm bacteria are in a physiological state different from planktonic bacteria.
Project description:Mounting evidence suggests that natural microbial communities exhibit a high level of spatial organization at the micrometric scale that facilitate ecological interactions and support biogeochemical cycles. Microbial patterns are difficult to study definitively in natural environments due to complex biodiversity, observability and variable physicochemical factors. Here, we examine how trophic dependencies give rise to self-organized spatial patterns of a well-defined bacterial consortium grown on hydrated surfaces. The model consortium consisted of two Pseudomonas putida mutant strains that can fully degrade the aromatic hydrocarbon toluene. We demonstrated that obligate cooperation in toluene degradation (cooperative mutualism) favored convergence of 1:1 partner ratio and strong intermixing at the microscale (10-100??m). In contrast, competition for benzoate, a compound degraded independently by both strains, led to distinct segregation patterns. Emergence of a persistent spatial pattern has been predicted for surface attached microbial activity in liquid films that mediate diffusive exchanges while permitting limited cell movement (colony expansion). This study of a simple microbial consortium offers mechanistic glimpses into the rules governing the assembly and functioning of complex sessile communities, and points to general principles of spatial organization with potential applications for natural and engineered microbial systems.
Project description:Acinetobacter johnsonii C6 originates from creosote-polluted groundwater and performs ecological and evolutionary interactions with Pseudomonas putida in biofilms. The draft genome of A. johnsonii C6 is 3.7 Mbp and was shaped by mobile genetic elements. It reveals genes facilitating the biodegradation of aromatic hydrocarbons and resistance to antimicrobials and metals.
Project description:Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) increase plant growth and crop productivity. The inoculation of plants with a bacterial mixture (consortium) apparently provides greater benefits to plant growth than inoculation with a single bacterial strain. In the present work, a bacterial consortium was formulated containing four compatible and desiccation-tolerant strains with potential as PGPR. The formulation had one moderately (Pseudomonas putida KT2440) and three highly desiccation-tolerant (Sphingomonas sp. OF178, Azospirillum brasilense Sp7 and Acinetobacter sp. EMM02) strains. The four bacterial strains were able to adhere to seeds and colonize the rhizosphere of plants when applied in both mono-inoculation and multi-inoculation treatments, showing that they can also coexist without antagonistic effects in association with plants. The effects of the bacterial consortium on the growth of blue maize were evaluated. Seeds inoculated with either individual bacterial strains or the bacterial consortium were subjected to two experimental conditions before sowing: normal hydration or desiccation. In general, inoculation with the bacterial consortium increased the shoot and root dry weight, plant height and plant diameter compared to the non-inoculated control or mono-inoculation treatments. The bacterial consortium formulated in this work had greater benefits for blue maize plants even when the inoculated seeds underwent desiccation stress before germination, making this formulation attractive for future field applications.
Project description:Acinetobacter johnsonii A2 isolated from the natural community of Laguna Azul (Andean Mountains at 4,560 m above sea level), Serratia marcescens MF42, Pseudomonas sp. strain MF8 isolated from the planktonic community, and Cytophaga sp. strain MF7 isolated from the benthic community from Laguna Pozuelos (Andean Puna at 3,600 m above sea level) were subjected to UV-B (3,931 J m-2) irradiation. In addition, a marine Pseudomonas putida strain, 2IDINH, and a second Acinetobacter johnsonii strain, ATCC 17909, were used as external controls. Resistance to UV-B and kinetic rates of light-dependent (UV-A [315 to 400 nm] and cool white light [400 to 700 nm]) and -independent reactivation following exposure were determined by measuring the survival (expressed as CFU) and accumulation of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD). Significant differences in survival after UV-B irradiation were observed: Acinetobacter johnsonii A2, 48%; Acinetobacter johnsonii ATCC 17909, 20%; Pseudomonas sp. strain MF8, 40%; marine Pseudomonas putida strain 2IDINH, 12%; Cytophaga sp. strain MF7, 20%; and Serratia marcescens, 21%. Most bacteria exhibited little DNA damage (between 40 and 80 CPD/Mb), except for the benthic isolate Cytophaga sp. strain MF7 (400 CPD/Mb) and Acinetobacter johnsonii ATCC 17909 (160 CPD/Mb). The recovery strategies through dark and light repair were different in all strains. The most efficient in recovering were both Acinetobacter johnsonii A2 and Cytophaga sp. strain MF7; Serratia marcescens MF42 showed intermediate recovery, and in both Pseudomonas strains, recovery was essentially zero. The UV-B responses and recovery abilities of the different bacteria were consistent with the irradiation levels in their native environment.
Project description:Antibiotic resistance plasmids were exogenously isolated in biparental matings with piggery manure bacteria as plasmid donors in Escherichia coli CV601 and Pseudomonas putida UWC1 recipients. Surprisingly, IncQ-like plasmids were detected by dot blot hybridization with an IncQ oriV probe in several P. putida UWC1 transconjugants. The capture of IncQ-like plasmids in biparental matings indicates not only their high prevalence in manure slurries but also the presence of efficiently mobilizing plasmids. In order to elucidate unusual hybridization data (weak or no hybridization with IncQ repB or IncQ oriT probes) four IncQ-like plasmids (pIE1107, pIE1115, pIE1120, and pIE1130), each representing a different EcoRV restriction pattern, were selected for a more thorough plasmid characterization after transfer into E. coli K-12 strain DH5alpha by transformation. The characterization of the IncQ-like plasmids revealed an astonishingly high diversity with regard to phenotypic and genotypic properties. Four different multiple antibiotic resistance patterns were found to be conferred by the IncQ-like plasmids. The plasmids could be mobilized by the RP4 derivative pTH10 into Acinetobacter sp., Ralstonia eutropha, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and P. putida, but they showed diverse patterns of stability under nonselective growth conditions in different host backgrounds. Incompatibility testing and PCR analysis clearly revealed at least two different types of IncQ-like plasmids. PCR amplification of total DNA extracted directly from different manure samples and other environments indicated the prevalence of both types of IncQ plasmids in manure, sewage, and farm soil. These findings suggest that IncQ plasmids play an important role in disseminating antibiotic resistance genes.
Project description:Microbial communities growing in laboratory-based flow chambers were investigated in order to study compartmentalization of specific gene expression. Among the community members studied, the focus was in particular on Pseudomonas putida and a strain of an Acinetobacter sp., and the genes studied are involved in the biodegradation of toluene and related aromatic compounds. The upper-pathway promoter (Pu) and the meta-pathway promoter (Pm) from the TOL plasmid were fused independently to the gene coding for the green fluorescent protein (GFP), and expression from these promoters was studied in P. putida, which was a dominant community member. Biofilms were cultured in flow chambers, which in combination with scanning confocal laser microscopy allowed direct monitoring of promoter activity with single-cell spatial resolution. Expression from the Pu promoter was homogeneously induced by benzyl alcohol in both community and pure-culture biofilms, while the Pm promoter was induced in the mixed community but not in a pure-culture biofilm. By sequentially adding community members, induction of Pm was shown to be a consequence of direct metabolic interactions between an Acinetobacter species and P. putida. Furthermore, in fixed biofilm samples organism identity was determined and gene expression was visualized at the same time by combining GFP expression with in situ hybridization with fluorescence-labeled 16S rRNA targeting probes. This combination of techniques is a powerful approach for investigating structure-function relationships in microbial communities.
Project description:The architecture of a Sphingomonas biofilm was studied during early phases of its formation, using strain L138, a gfp-tagged derivative of Sphingomonas sp. strain LB126, as a model organism and flow cells and confocal laser scanning microscopy as experimental tools. Spatial and temporal distribution of cells and exopolymer secretions (EPS) within the biofilm, development of microcolonies under flow conditions representing varied Reynolds numbers, and changes in diffusion length with reference to EPS production were studied by sequential sacrificing of biofilms grown in multichannel flow cells and by time-lapse confocal imaging. The area of biofilm in terms of microscopic images required to ensure representative sampling varied by an order of magnitude when area of cell coverage (2 x 10(5) microm(2)) or microcolony size (1 x 10(6) microm(2)) was the biofilm parameter under investigation. Hence, it is necessary to establish the inherent variability of any biofilm metric one is attempting to quantify. Sphingomonas sp. strain L138 biofilm architecture consisted of microcolonies and extensive water channels. Biomass and EPS distribution were maximal at 8 to 9 mum above the substratum, with a high void fraction near the substratum. Time-lapse confocal imaging and digital image analysis showed that growth of the microcolonies was not uniform: adjacently located colonies registered significant growth or no growth at all. Microcolonies in the biofilm had the ability to move across the attachment surface as a unit, irrespective of fluid flow direction, indicating that movement of microcolonies is an inherent property of the biofilm. Width of water channels decreased as EPS production increased, resulting in increased diffusion distances in the biofilm. Changing hydrodynamic conditions (Reynolds numbers of 0.07, 52, and 87) had no discernible influence on the characteristics of microcolonies (size, shape, or orientation with respect to flow) during the first 24 h of biofilm development. Inherent factors appear to have overriding influence, vis-a-vis environmental factors, on early stages of microcolony development under these laminar flow conditions.
Project description:The xylXYZ DNA region is carried on the TOL pWW0 plasmid in Pseudomonas putida and encodes a benzoate dioxygenase with broad substrate specificity. The DNA sequence of the region is presented and compared with benABC, the chromosomal region encoding the benzoate dioxygenase of Acinetobacter calcoaceticus. Corresponding genes from the two biological sources share common ancestry: comparison of aligned XylX-BenA, XylY-BenB, and XylZ-BenC amino acid sequences revealed respective identities of 58.3, 61.3, and 53%. The aligned genes have diverged to assume G+C contents that differ by 14.0 to 14.9%. Usage of the unusual arginine codons AGA and AGG appears to have been selected in the P. putida xylX gene as it diverged from the ancestor it shared with A. calcoaceticus benA. Homologous A. calcoaceticus and P. putida genes exhibit different patterns of DNA sequence repetition, and analysis of one such pattern suggests that mutations creating different DNA slippage structures made a significant contribution to the evolutionary divergence of xylX.