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Microbiologyopen. 2018 Apr;7(2):e00559. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.559. Epub 2018 Jan 3.

Molecular processes underlying synergistic linuron mineralization in a triple-species bacterial consortium biofilm revealed by differential transcriptomics.

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Division of Soil and Water Management, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems, Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium.
Department of Information Technology, IDLab, IMEC, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium.
Bioinformatics Institute Ghent, Gent, Belgium.


The proteobacteria Variovorax sp. WDL1, Comamonas testosteroni WDL7, and Hyphomicrobium sulfonivorans WDL6 compose a triple-species consortium that synergistically degrades and grows on the phenylurea herbicide linuron. To acquire a better insight into the interactions between the consortium members and the underlying molecular mechanisms, we compared the transcriptomes of the key biodegrading strains WDL7 and WDL1 grown as biofilms in either isolation or consortium conditions by differential RNAseq analysis. Differentially expressed pathways and cellular systems were inferred using the network-based algorithm PheNetic. Coculturing affected mainly metabolism in WDL1. Significantly enhanced expression of hylA encoding linuron hydrolase was observed. Moreover, differential expression of several pathways involved in carbohydrate, amino acid, nitrogen, and sulfur metabolism was observed indicating that WDL1 gains carbon and energy from linuron indirectly by consuming excretion products from WDL7 and/or WDL6. Moreover, in consortium conditions, WDL1 showed a pronounced stress response and overexpression of cell to cell interaction systems such as quorum sensing, contact-dependent inhibition, and Type VI secretion. Since the latter two systems can mediate interference competition, it prompts the question if synergistic linuron degradation is the result of true adaptive cooperation or rather a facultative interaction between bacteria that coincidentally occupy complementary metabolic niches.


biodegradation; consortium; cooperation; differential transcriptomics; linuron; synergistic interactions

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