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Appl Environ Microbiol. Apr 1993; 59(4): 1181–1186.
PMCID: PMC202258

Exopolysaccharide production in biofilms: substratum activation of alginate gene expression by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Reporter gene technology was employed to detect the activity of an alginate promoter of Pseudomonas aeruginosa when the organism was grown as a biofilm on a Teflon mesh substratum and as planktonic cells in liquid medium. Alginate biosynthetic activity was determined with a mucoid cell line derived from a cystic fibrosis isolate and containing an alginate algC promoter fused to a lacZ reporter gene. Reporter activity was demonstrated with chromogenic and fluorogenic substrates for beta-galactosidase. Expression of algC was shown to be upregulated in biofilm cells compared with planktonic cells in liquid medium. Gene up-expression correlated with alginate biosynthesis as measured by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, uronic acid accumulation, and alginate-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The algC promoter was shown to have maximum activity in planktonic cultures during the late lag and early log phases of the cell growth cycle. During a time course experiment, biofilm algC activity exceeded planktonic activity except during the period immediately following inoculation into fresh medium. In continuous-culture experiments, conversion of lacZ substrate was demonstrated microscopically in individual cells by epifluorescence microscopy.

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Selected References

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