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Journal of Bacteriology
Vol. 98 (23), 2016, Pages: 1-24

Quorum sensing influences Burkholderia thailandensis biofilm development and matrix production

Boo Shan Tseng, Charlotte D. Majerczyk, Daniel Passos da Silva, Josephine R. Chandler, E. Peter Greenberg and Matthew R. Parsek

Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Members of the genus Burkholderia are known to be adept at biofilm formation, which presumably assists in the survival of these organisms in the environment and host. Biofilm formation has been linked to quorum sensing (QS) in several bacterial species. In this study, we characterized B. thailandensis biofilm development under flow conditions and sought to determine if QS contributes to this process. B. thailandensis biofilm formation exhibited an unusual pattern where the cells formed small aggregates, then proceeded to produce mature biofilms characterized by “dome” structures filled with biofilm matrix material. We showed that this process was dependent on QS. B. thailandensis has three acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) QS systems (QS-1, QS-2, and QS-3). An AHL-negative strain produced biofilms consisting of cell aggregates, but lacking the matrix-filled dome structures. This phenotype was rescued via the exogenous addition of the three AHL signals. Of the three B. thailandensis QS systems, we show that QS-1 is required for proper biofilm development as a btaR1 mutant, which is defective in QS-1 regulation, forms biofilms without these dome structures. Furthermore, our data show that the wild-type biofilm biomass, as well as the material inside the domes, stains with a fucose-binding lectin. The btaR1 mutant biofilms, however, are negative for fucose staining. This suggests that the QS-1 system regulates the production of a fucose-containing exopolysaccharide in wild-type biofilms. Finally, we present data showing that the ability to QS during biofilm development produces a biofilm that is more resilient to dispersion under stress conditions.


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