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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Sep;71(9):5208-18.

Quorum-sensing mutations affect attachment and stability of Burkholderia cenocepacia biofilms.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.


Biofilm formation in Burkholderia cenocepacia has been shown to rely in part on acylhomoserine lactone-based quorum sensing. For many other bacterial species, it appears that both the initial adherence and the later stages of biofilm maturation are affected when quorum sensing pathways are inhibited. In this study, we examined the effects of mutations in the cepIR and cciIR quorum-sensing systems of Burkholderia cenocepacia K56-2 with respect to biofilm attachment and antibiotic resistance. We also examined the role of the cepIR system in biofilm stability and structural development. Using the high-throughput MBEC assay system to produce multiple equivalent biofilms, the biomasses of both the cepI and cepR mutant biofilms, measured by crystal violet staining, were less than half of the value observed for the wild-type strain. Attachment was partially restored upon providing functional gene copies via multicopy expression vectors. Surprisingly, neither the cciI mutant nor the double cciI cepI mutant was deficient in attachment, and restoration of the cciI gene resulted in less attachment than for the mutants. Meanwhile, the cciR mutant did show a significant reduction in attachment, as did the cciR cepIR mutant. While there was no change in antibiotic susceptibility with the individual cepIR and cciIR mutants, the cepI cciI mutant biofilms were more sensitive to ciprofloxacin. A significant increase in sensitivity to removal by sodium dodecyl sulfate was seen for the cepI and cepR mutants. Flow cell analysis of the individual cepIR mutant biofilms indicated that they were both structurally and temporally impaired in attachment and development. These results suggest that biofilm structural defects might be present in quorum-sensing mutants of B. cenocepacia that affect the stability and resistance of the adherent cell mass, providing a basis for future studies to design preventative measures against biofilm formation in this species, an important lung pathogen of cystic fibrosis patients.

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