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Lipopeptides (LPs) are surface-active, antimicrobial compounds composed of a lipid moiety linked to a short linear or cyclic oligopeptide. In bacteria, LPs are synthesized by large nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) via a thiotemplate process. Compared to the understanding of LP biosynthesis, little is known about the genetic regulation.
The aims of this PhD thesis were to identify new regulatory genes of LP biosynthesis and to unravel the natural functions of LPs in plant-associated Pseudomonas species. Using a combination of various ‘omics’-based technologies, we identified two small RNAs, designated RsmY and RsmZ, that, together with the repressor proteins RsmA and RsmE, regulate the biosynthesis of the LP massetolide in the rhizosphere bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SS101. Four other regulatory genes (phgdh, dnaK, prtR and clpA) of massetolide biosynthesis were identified via random mutagenesis. Mutations in each of these four genes caused a deficiency in massetolide production, swarming motility and biofilm formation, two natural functions associated with the production of LPs in Pseudomonas. Results further indicated that the ClpAP protease complex regulates massetolide biosynthesis via the pathway-specific, LuxR-type regulator MassAR, the heat shock proteins DnaK and DnaJ, and proteins of the TCA cycle.
LPs exhibit broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities and have diverse natural functions for the producing bacteria. LPs of P. fluorescens were shown to play an important role in defense against protozoan predation. Genome-wide transcriptome analysis revealed that 55 and 73 genes were up- and down-regulated respectively in P. fluorescens strain SS101 upon grazing by the protozoan predator Naeglaria americana. The up-regulated genes included the LP biosynthesis genes massABC, but also genes involved in alkane degradation and in putrescine catalysis. Putrescine induced encystment of the protozoa, possibly providing a second line of defense against predation. MALDI imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) and live colony NanoDesi mass spectrometry further revealed, in real time, site-specific LP production at the interface of Pseudomonas-protozoa interactions. When the closely related strain P. fluorescens SBW25 was exposed to N. americana, similar overall transcriptional and metabolic responses were observed as found for strain SS101, but also strain-specific responses were apparent. These results indicate that closely related bacterial strains exhibit common and unique transcriptomic and metabolic responses to protozoan predation. Next to defense against competitors and predators, LPs are well-known for their role in swarming motility, a flagella-driven multicellular behavior of bacteria. Orfamide-deficient mutants of P. protegens Pf-5, either with deletions in the biosynthesis gene ofaA or in the regulatory gene gacA, cannot swarm on their own but ‘hitch-hike’ with parental strain Pf-5. However, distinctly different spatial distributions in co-swarming colonies were observed for these two mutants, with the ofaA mutant moving behind the wild type and the gacA mutant predominating on the edge of the swarming colony. Subsequent experimental evolution assays showed that repeated swarming cycles of strain Pf-5 drives parallel evolution toward fixation of spontaneous gacS/gacA mutants on the edge, ultimately causing colony collapse. Transcriptome analyses revealed that genes associated with resource acquisition, motility, chemotaxis and efflux were significantly upregulated in these regulatory mutants. Moreover, microscopic analysis showed that gacA mutant cells were longer and more flagellated than wild type and ofaA mutant cells, which may explain their predominance on the edge of co-swarming colonies. Collectively, these results indicated that adaptive convergent evolution through point mutations is a common feature of range-expanding microbial populations and that the putative fitness benefits of these spontaneous mutations during dispersal of bacteria into new territories are frequency-dependent.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||24 Apr 2015|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
- pseudomonas fluorescens
- genetic mapping
- gene regulation
- defence mechanisms