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Environ Microbiol. 2011 Nov;13(11):2888-990. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02564.x. Epub 2011 Sep 5.

Overlapping and unique contributions of two conserved polysaccharide loci in governing distinct survival phenotypes in Vibrio vulnificus.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


As an aetiological agent of bacterial sepsis and wound infections, Vibrio vulnificus is unique among the Vibrionacea. Its continued environmental persistence and transmission are bolstered by its ability to colonize shellfish and form biofilms on various marine biotic surfaces. We previously identified a polysaccharide locus, brp, which contributes to the survival phenotypes of biofilm formation, rugose colony formation and stress resistance. Here, we describe a second polysaccharide locus, rbd (regulation of biofilm development), which also enhanced biofilm formation when expressed. Despite this functional overlap, the development of stress resistance and rugosity could be uniquely attributed to brp expression, whereas rbd expression augmented aggregate formation. Simultaneous expression of both loci led to the formation of a dramatic pellicle and maximum biofilm formation. Unlike the brp locus, transcription of the rbd locus was regulated not by c-di-GMP, but by a response regulator (RbdG) that was encoded within the locus. We propose that the ability to regulate the expression of polysaccharides with overlapping and unique characteristics in response to different environmental cues enables V. vulnificus to 'fine tune' its biofilm lifestyle to the prevailing environmental conditions and maximally benefit from the characteristics associated with each polysaccharide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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