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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e42160. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042160. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Transcriptome analysis of early surface-associated growth of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1.

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Department of Ecophysiology, Max-Planck-Institut für terrestrische Mikrobiologie, Marburg, Germany.


Bacterial biofilm formation starts with single cells attaching to a surface, however, little is known about the initial attachment steps and the adaptation to the surface-associated life style. Here, we describe a hydrodynamic system that allows easy harvest of cells at very early biofilm stages. Using the metal ion-reducing gammaproteobacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 as a model organism, we analyzed the transcriptional changes occurring during surface-associated growth between 15 and 60 minutes after attachment. 230 genes were significantly upregulated and 333 were downregulated by a factor of ≥ 2. Main functional categories of the corresponding gene products comprise metabolism, uptake and transport, regulation, and hypothetical proteins. Among the genes highly upregulated those implicated in iron uptake are highly overrepresented, strongly indicating that S. oneidensis MR-1 has a high demand for iron during surface attachment and initial biofilm stages. Subsequent microscopic analysis of biofilm formation under hydrodynamic conditions revealed that addition of Fe(II) significantly stimulated biofilm formation of S. oneidensis MR-1 while planktonic growth was not affected. Our approach to harvest cells for transcriptional analysis of early biofilm stages is expected to be easily adapted to other bacterial species.

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