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Environ Microbiol. 2011 Aug;13(8):2279-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02486.x. Epub 2011 Apr 25.

Proteome changes in the initial bacterial colonist during ecological succession in an acid mine drainage biofilm community.

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University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Proteomes of acid mine drainage biofilms at different stages of ecological succession were examined to understand microbial responses to changing community membership. We evaluated the degree of reproducibility of the community proteomes between samples of the same growth stage and found stable and predictable protein abundance patterns across time and sampling space, allowing for a set of 50 classifier proteins to be identified for use in predicting growth stages of undefined communities. Additionally, physiological changes in the dominant species, Leptospirillum Group II, were analysed as biofilms mature. During early growth stages, this population responds to abiotic stresses related to growth on the acid mine drainage solution. Enzymes involved in protein synthesis, cell division and utilization of 1- and 2-carbon compounds were more abundant in early growth stages, suggesting rapid growth and a reorganization of metabolism during biofilm initiation. As biofilms thicken and diversify, external stresses arise from competition for dwindling resources, which may inhibit cell division of Leptospirillum Group II through the SOS response. This population also represses translation and synthesizes more complex carbohydrates and amino acids in mature biofilms. These findings provide unprecedented insight into the physiological changes that may result from competitive interactions within communities in natural environments.

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