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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Jul;37(1):168-79.

Novel effects of a transposon insertion in the Vibrio fischeri glnD gene: defects in iron uptake and symbiotic persistence in addition to nitrogen utilization.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371, USA.


Vibrio fischeri is the sole species colonizing the light-emitting organ of the Hawaiian squid, Euprymna scolopes. Upon entering the nascent light organ of a newly hatched juvenile squid, the bacteria undergo morphological and physiological changes that include the loss of flagellation and the induction of bioluminescence. These and other events reveal a pattern of genetic regulation that is a response to the colonization of host tissue. In this study, we isolated and characterized a glnD:mTn5Cm mutant of V. fischeri. In addition to the predicted defects in the efficiency of nitrogen utilization, this glnD mutant had an unexpected reduction in the ability to produce siderophore and grow under iron-limiting conditions. Although the glnD mutant could colonize juvenile squid normally over the first 24 h, it was subsequently unable to persist in the light organ to the usual extent. This persistence phenotype was more severe if the mutant was pregrown under iron-limiting conditions before inoculation, but could be ameliorated by the presence of excess iron. These results indicate that the ability to respond to iron limitation may be an important requirement in the developing symbiosis. Supplying the glnD gene in trans restored normal efficiency of nitrogen use, iron sequestration and colonization phenotypes to the glnD:mTn5Cm mutant; thus, there appears to be a genetic and/or metabolic linkage between nitrogen sensing, siderophore synthesis and symbiosis competence in V. fischeri that involves the glnD gene.

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