1887

Abstract

We used transcriptome analysis by paired-end strand-specific RNA-seq to evaluate the specific changes in gene expression associated with the transition to static biofilm growth in the rhizosphere plant growth-promoting bacterium EPS. Triplicate biological samples of exponential growth, stationary phase and static biofilm samples were examined. DESeq2 and Rockhopper were used to identify robust and widespread shifts in gene expression specific to each growth phase. We identified 1711 protein-coding genes (28%) using DESeq2 that had altered expression greater than twofold specifically in biofilms compared to exponential growth. Fewer genes were specifically differentially expressed in stationary-phase culture (757, 12%). A small set of genes (103/6020) were differentially expressed in opposing fashions in biofilm and stationary phase, indicating potentially substantial shifts in phenotype. Gene-ontology analysis showed that the only class of genes specifically upregulated in biofilms was associated with nutrient transport, highlighting the importance of nutrient uptake in the biofilm. The biofilm-specific genes did not overlap substantially with the loci identified by mutagenesis studies, although some were present in both sets. The most highly upregulated biofilm-specific gene is predicted to be a part of the RNA degradosome, which indicates that RNA stability is used to regulate the biofilm phenotype. Two small putative proteins, Varpa_0407 and Varpa_3832, are highly expressed specifically in biofilms and are predicted to be secreted DNA-binding proteins, which may stabilize extracellular DNA as a component of the biofilm matrix. An flp/tad type-IV pilus locus (Varpa_5148–60) is strongly downregulated specifically in biofilms, in contrast with results from other systems for these pili. Mutagenesis confirms that this locus is important in surface motility rather than biofilm formation. These experimental results suggest that EPS biofilms have substantial regulatory and structural novelty.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Not Applicable , National Institute of General Medical Sciences (US) , (Award 1R25GM100829-01A1)
  • Paul M Orwin , National Institute of General Medical Sciences , (Award 1R15GM090242-01)
  • Paul M Orwin , National Institute of General Medical Sciences , (Award 1R15GM116173-01)
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2020-04-03
2020-06-04
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