1887

Abstract

Iridescence is an original type of colouration that is relatively widespread in nature but has been either incompletely described or entirely neglected in prokaryotes. Recently, we reported a brilliant ‘pointillistic’ iridescence in agar-grown colony biofilms of and some other marine Flavobacteria that exhibit gliding motility. Bacterial iridescence is created by a unique self-organization of sub-communities of cells, but the mechanisms underlying such living photonic crystals are unknown. In this study, we used Petri dish assays to screen a large panel of potential activators or inhibitors of ’s iridescence. Derivatives potentially interfering with quorum-sensing and other communication or biofilm formation processes were tested, as well as metabolic poisons or algal exoproducts. We identified an indole derivative, 5-hydroxyindole (5HI, 250 µM) which inhibited both gliding and iridescence at the colonial level. 5HI did not affect growth or cell respiration. At the microscopic level, phase-contrast imaging confirmed that 5HI inhibits the gliding motility of cells. Moreover, the lack of iridescence correlated with a perturbation of self-organization of the cell sub-communities in both the WT and a gliding-negative mutant. This effect was proved using recent advances in machine learning (deep neuronal networks). In addition to its effect on colony biofilms, 5HI was found to stimulate biofilm formation in microplates. Our data are compatible with possible roles of 5HI or marine analogues in the eco-biology of iridescent bacteria.

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2018-03-01
2020-01-23
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