Motility, Chemotaxis and Aerotaxis Contribute to Competitiveness during Bacterial Pellicle Biofilm Development.
ABSTRACT: Biofilm formation is a complex process involving various signaling pathways and changes in gene expression. Many of the sensory mechanisms and regulatory cascades involved have been defined for biofilms formed by diverse organisms attached to solid surfaces. By comparison, our knowledge on the basic mechanisms underlying the formation of biofilms at air-liquid interfaces, that is, pellicles, is much less complete. In particular, the roles of flagella have been studied in multiple solid-surface biofilm models but remain largely undefined for pellicles. In this work, we characterize the contributions of flagellum-based motility, chemotaxis and oxygen sensing to pellicle formation in the Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis. We confirm that flagellum-based motility is involved in, but is not absolutely essential for, B. subtilis pellicle formation. Further, we show that flagellum-based motility, chemotaxis and oxygen sensing are important for successful competition during B. subtilis pellicle formation. We report that flagellum-based motility similarly contributes to pellicle formation and fitness in competition assays in the Gram-negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Time-lapse imaging of static liquid cultures demonstrates that, in both B. subtilis and P. aeruginosa, a turbulent flow forms in the tube and a zone of clearing appears below the air-liquid interface just before the formation of the pellicle but only in strains that have flagella.
Project description:Biofilms are structured communities of bacteria that exhibit complex spatio-temporal dynamics. In liquid media, <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> produces an opaque floating biofilm, or a pellicle. Biofilms are generally associated with an interface, but the ability of <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> to swim means the bacteria are additionally able to reside within the liquid phase. However, due to imaging complications associated with the opacity of pellicles, the extent to which bacteria coexist within the liquid bulk as well as their behavior in the liquid is not well studied. We therefore develop a high-throughput imaging system to image underneath developing pellicles. Here we report a well-defined sequence of developmental events that occurs underneath a growing pellicle. Comparison with bacteria deficient in swimming and chemotaxis suggest that these properties enable collective bacterial swimming within the liquid phase which facilitate faster surface colonization. Furthermore, comparison to bacteria deficient in exopolymeric substances (EPS) suggest that the lack of a surface pellicle prevents further developmental steps from occurring within the liquid phase. Our results reveal a sequence of developmental events during pellicle growth, encompassing adhesion, conversion, growth, maturity, and detachment on the interface, which are synchronized with the bacteria in the liquid bulk increasing in density until the formation of a mature surface pellicle, after which the density of bacteria in the liquid drops.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Although solid surface-associated biofilm development of S. oneidensis has been extensively studied in recent years, pellicles formed at the air-liquid interface are largely overlooked. The goal of this work was to understand basic requirements and mechanism of pellicle formation in S. oneidensis. RESULTS: We demonstrated that pellicle formation can be completed when oxygen and certain cations were present. Ca(II), Mn(II), Cu(II), and Zn(II) were essential for the process evidenced by fully rescuing pellicle formation of S. oneidensis from the EDTA treatment while Mg (II), Fe(II), and Fe(III) were much less effective. Proteins rather than DNA were crucial in pellicle formation and the major exopolysaccharides may be rich in mannose. Mutational analysis revealed that flagella were not required for pellicle formation but flagellum-less mutants delayed pellicle development substantially, likely due to reduced growth in static media. The analysis also demonstrated that AggA type I secretion system was essential in formation of pellicles but not of solid surface-associated biofilms in S. oneidensis. CONCLUSION: This systematic characterization of pellicle formation shed lights on our understanding of biofilm formation in S. oneidensis and indicated that the pellicle may serve as a good research model for studying bacterial communities.
Project description:Bacteria form biofilms as a means to adapt to environmental changes for survival. Pellicle is a floating biofilm formed at the air-liquid interface in static culture conditions; however, its functional roles have received relatively little attention compared to solid surface-associated biofilms in gram-negative bacteria. Here we show that the rice pathogen Burkholderia glumae BGR1 forms cellulase-sensitive pellicles in a bis-(3'-5')-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP)- and flagellum-dependent, but quorum sensing (QS)-independent, manner. Pellicle formation was more favorable at 28°C than at the optimum growth temperature (37°C), and was facilitated by constitutive expression of pelI, a diguanylate cyclase gene from B. glumae, or pleD, the GGDEF response regulator from Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Constitutive expression of pelI or pleD raised the levels of c-di-GMP, facilitated pellicle formation, and suppressed swarming motility in B. glumae. QS-defective mutants of B. glumae formed pellicles, while flagellum-defective mutants did not. Pellicles of B. glumae were sensitive to cellulase but not to proteinase K or DNase I. A gene cluster containing seven genes involved in bacterial cellulose biosynthesis, bcsD, bcsR, bcsQ, bcsA, bcsB, bcsZ, and bcsC, homologous to known genes involved in cellulose biosynthesis in other bacteria, was identified in B. glumae. Mutations in each gene abolished pellicle formation. These results revealed a positive correlation between cellulase-sensitive pellicles and putative cellulose biosynthetic genes. Pellicle-defective mutants did not colonize as successfully as the wild-type strain BGR1 in rice plants, which resulted in a significant reduction in virulence. Our findings show that cellulase-sensitive pellicles produced in a QS-independent manner play important roles in the interactions between rice plants and B. glumae.
Project description:Cellulose, whose production is controlled by c-di-GMP, is a commonly found exopolysaccharide in bacterial biofilms. Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pto) DC3000, a model organism for molecular studies of plant-pathogen interactions, carries the wssABCDEFGHI operon for the synthesis of acetylated cellulose. The high intracellular levels of the second messenger c-di-GMP induced by the overexpression of the heterologous diguanylate cyclase PleD stimulate cellulose production and enhance air-liquid biofilm (pellicle) formation. To characterize the mechanisms involved in Pto DC3000 pellicle formation, we studied this process using mutants lacking flagella, biosurfactant or different extracellular matrix components, and compared the pellicles produced in the absence and in the presence of PleD. We have discovered that neither alginate nor the biosurfactant syringafactin are needed for their formation, whereas cellulose and flagella are important but not essential. We have also observed that the high c-di-GMP levels conferred more cohesion to Pto cells within the pellicle and induced the formation of intracellular inclusion bodies and extracellular fibres and vesicles. Since the pellicles were very labile and this greatly hindered their handling and processing for microscopy, we have also developed new methods to collect and process them for scanning and transmission electron microscopy. These techniques open up new perspectives for the analysis of fragile biofilms in other bacterial strains.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Selection for a certain trait in microbes depends on the genetic background of the strain and the selection pressure of the environmental conditions acting on the cells. In contrast to the sessile state in the biofilm, various bacterial cells employ flagellum-dependent motility under planktonic conditions suggesting that the two phenotypes are mutually exclusive. However, flagellum dependent motility facilitates the prompt establishment of floating biofilms on the air-medium interface, called pellicles. Previously, pellicles of B. subtilis were shown to be preferably established by motile cells, causing a reduced fitness of non-motile derivatives in the presence of the wild type strain. RESULTS:Here, we show that lack of active flagella promotes the evolution of matrix overproducers that can be distinguished by the characteristic wrinkled colony morphotype. The wrinkly phenotype is associated with amino acid substitutions in the master repressor of biofilm-related genes, SinR. By analyzing one of the mutations, we show that it alters the tetramerization and DNA binding properties of SinR, allowing an increased expression of the operon responsible for exopolysaccharide production. Finally, we demonstrate that the wrinkly phenotype is advantageous when cells lack flagella, but not in the wild type background. CONCLUSIONS:Our experiments suggest that loss of function phenotypes could expose rapid evolutionary adaptation in bacterial biofilms that is otherwise not evident in the wild type strains.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>Bacterial biofilms are ubiquitous in nature, and their resilience is derived in part from a complex extracellular matrix that can be tailored to meet environmental demands. Although common developmental stages leading to biofilm formation have been described, how the extracellular components are organized to allow three-dimensional biofilm development is not well understood. Here we show that uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) strains produce a biofilm with a highly ordered and complex extracellular matrix (ECM). We used electron microscopy (EM) techniques to image floating biofilms (pellicles) formed by UPEC. EM revealed intricately constructed substructures within the ECM that encase individual, spatially segregated bacteria with a distinctive morphology. Mutational and biochemical analyses of these biofilms confirmed curli as a major matrix component and revealed important roles for cellulose, flagella, and type 1 pili in pellicle integrity and ECM infrastructure. Collectively, the findings of this study elucidated that UPEC pellicles have a highly organized ultrastructure that varies spatially across the multicellular community.<h4>Importance</h4>Bacteria can form biofilms in diverse niches, including abiotic surfaces, living cells, and at the air-liquid interface of liquid media. Encasing these cellular communities is a self-produced extracellular matrix (ECM) that can be composed of proteins, polysaccharides, and nucleic acids. The ECM protects biofilm bacteria from environmental insults and also makes the dissolution of biofilms very challenging. As a result, formation of biofilms within humans (during infection) or on industrial material (such as water pipes) has detrimental and costly effects. In order to combat bacterial biofilms, a better understanding of components required for biofilm formation and the ECM is required. This study defined the ECM composition and architecture of floating pellicle biofilms formed by Escherichia coli.
Project description:Bacillus subtilis has been extensively used as a model for molecular studies on biofilm formation. These studies encompassed the development of complex macro-colonies on agar, the formation of pellicles at the air-liquid interface, and lately the formation of submerged architectural biofilms at the solid-liquid interface. Beside similarities, these multicellular communities also display considerable heterogeneity at the structural, chemical and biological levels. Here we use RNA-seq to analyze nine different spatio-physiological conditions, including the three biofilm populations (colony, pellicle, and submerged).
Project description:Many aerobic microorganisms can colonize at the air-liquid interface and form a multicellular structure, known as a pellicle. In this study, the involvement of motility and attachment traits in the Pseudomonas aeruginosa pellicle formation process was investigated. Flagella- and flagellar-motor-deficient mutants exhibited delayed pellicle formation and unusual pellicle morphology, indicating the large contribution of flagella-driven motility to structural development of the pellicle. A pili-deficient mutant showed normal pellicle formation properties, while the disruption of the pilus gene in the flagella-deficient mutant restored normal pellicle morphology. These results indicate that flagella and pili play key roles in P. aeruginosa pellicle development.
Project description:The clinical importance of Acinetobacter baumannii is partly due to its natural ability to survive in the hospital environment. This persistence may be explained by its capacity to form biofilms and, interestingly, A. baumannii can form pellicles at the air-liquid interface more readily than other less pathogenic Acinetobacter species. Pellicles from twenty-six strains were morphologically classified into three groups: I) egg-shaped (27%); II) ball-shaped (50%); and III) irregular pellicles (23%). One strain representative of each group was further analysed by Brewster's Angle Microscopy to follow pellicle development, demonstrating that their formation did not require anchoring to a solid surface. Total carbohydrate analysis of the matrix showed three main components: Glucose, GlcNAc and Kdo. Dispersin B, an enzyme that hydrolyzes poly-N-acetylglucosamine (PNAG) polysaccharide, inhibited A. baumannii pellicle formation, suggesting that this exopolysaccharide contributes to pellicle formation. Also associated with the pellicle matrix were three subunits of pili assembled by chaperon-usher systems: the major CsuA/B, A1S_1510 (presented 45% of identity with the main pilin F17-A from enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli pili) and A1S_2091. The presence of both PNAG polysaccharide and pili systems in matrix of pellicles might contribute to the virulence of this emerging pathogen.
Project description:The ability to form multicellular communities known as biofilms is a widespread adaptive behavior of bacteria. Members of the Bacillus group of bacteria have been found to form biofilms on plant roots, where they protect against pathogens and promote growth. In the case of the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis the genetic pathway controlling biofilm formation and the production of an extracellular matrix is relatively well understood. However, it is unclear whether other members of this genus utilize similar mechanisms. We determined that a plant-associated strain of Bacillus cereus (905) can form biofilms by two seemingly independent pathways. In one mode involving the formation of floating biofilms (pellicles) B. cereus 905 appears to rely on orthologs of many of the genes known to be important for B. subtilis biofilm formation. We report that B. cereus 905 also forms submerged, surface-associated biofilms and in a manner that resembles biofilm formation by the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. This alternative mode, which does not rely on B. subtilis-like genes for pellicle formation, takes place under conditions of glucose fermentation and depends on a drop in the pH of the medium.