Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20888. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020888. Epub 2011 Jun 7.

Surface hardness impairment of quorum sensing and swarming for Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Author information

Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, United States of America.


The importance of rhamnolipid to swarming of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is well established. It is frequently, but not exclusively, observed that P. aeruginosa swarms in tendril patterns--formation of these tendrils requires rhamnolipid. We were interested to explain the impact of surface changes on P. aeruginosa swarm tendril development. Here we report that P. aeruginosa quorum sensing and rhamnolipid production is impaired when growing on harder semi-solid surfaces. P. aeruginosa wild-type swarms showed huge variation in tendril formation with small deviations to the "standard" swarm agar concentration of 0.5%. These macroscopic differences correlated with microscopic investigation of cells close to the advancing swarm edge using fluorescent gene reporters. Tendril swarms showed significant rhlA-gfp reporter expression right up to the advancing edge of swarming cells while swarms without tendrils (grown on harder agar) showed no rhlA-gfp reporter expression near the advancing edge. This difference in rhamnolipid gene expression can be explained by the necessity of quorum sensing for rhamnolipid production. We provide evidence that harder surfaces seem to limit induction of quorum sensing genes near the advancing swarm edge and these localized effects were sufficient to explain the lack of tendril formation on hard agar. We were unable to artificially stimulate rhamnolipid tendril formation with added acyl-homoserine lactone signals or increasing the carbon nutrients. This suggests that quorum sensing on surfaces is controlled in a manner that is not solely population dependent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center