Methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and its degradation by-product, tert-butyl alcohol (TBA), are widespread contaminants detected frequently in groundwater in California. Since MTBE was used as a fuel oxygenate for almost two decades, leaking underground fuel storage tanks are an important source of contamination. Gasoline components such as BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes) are often present in mixtures with MTBE and TBA. Investigations of interactions between BTEX and MTBE degradation have not yielded consistent trends, and the molecular mechanisms of BTEX compounds’ impact on MTBE degradation are not well understood. We investigated trends in transcription of biodegradation genes in the MTBE-degrading bacterium, Methylibium petroleiphilum PM1 upon exposure to MTBE, TBA, ethylbenzene and benzene as individual compounds or in mixtures. We designed real-time quantitative PCR assays to target functional genes of strain PM1 and provide evidence for induction of genes mdpA (MTBE monooxygenase), mdpJ (TBA hydroxylase) and bmoA (benzene monooxygenase) in response to MTBE, TBA and benzene, respectively. Delayed induction of mdpA and mdpJ transcription occurred with mixtures of benzene and MTBE or TBA, respectively. bmoA transcription was similar in the presence of MTBE or TBA with benzene as in their absence. Our results also indicate that ethylbenzene, previously proposed as an inhibitor of MTBE degradation in some bacteria, inhibits transcription of mdpA, mdpJ and bmoAgenes in strain PM1.
The soil bacterial community at the Giessen free-air CO2 enrichment (Gi-FACE) experiment was analysed by tag sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. No substantial effects of CO2 levels on bacterial community composition were detected. However, the soil moisture gradient at Gi-FACE had a significant effect on bacterial community composition. Different groups within the Acidobacteria and Verrucomicrobia phyla were affected differently by soil moisture content. These results suggest that modest increases in atmospheric CO2 may cause only minor changes in soil bacterial community composition and indicate that the functional responses of the soil community to CO2 enrichment previously reported at Gi-FACE are due to factors other than changes in bacterial community composition. The effects of the moisture gradient revealed new information about the relationships between poorly known Acidobacteria and Verrucomicrobia and soil moisture content. This study contrasts with the relatively small number of other temperate grassland free-air CO2 enrichment microbiome studies in the use of moderate CO2 enrichment and the resulting minor changes in the soil microbiome. Thus, it will facilitate the development of further climate change mitigation studies. In addition, the moisture gradient found at Gi-FACE contributes new knowledge in soil microbial ecology, particularly regarding the abundance and moisture relationships of the soil Verrucomicrobia.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) and Aspergillus fumigatus (Af) are major human pathogens known to interact in a variety of disease settings, including airway infections in cystic fibrosis. We recently reported that clinical CF isolates of Pa inhibit the formation and growth of Af biofilms. Here, we report that the bacteriophage Pf4, produced by Pa, can inhibit the metabolic activity of Af biofilms. This phage-mediated inhibition was dose dependent, ablated by phage denaturation, and was more pronounced against preformed Af biofilm rather than biofilm formation. In contrast, planktonic conidial growth was unaffected. Two other phages, Pf1 and fd, did not inhibit Af, nor did supernatant from a Pa strain incapable of producing Pf4. Pf4, but not Pf1, attaches to Af hyphae in an avid and prolonged manner, suggesting that Pf4-mediated inhibition of Af may occur at the biofilm surface. We show that Pf4 binds iron, thus denying Af a crucial resource. Consistent with this, the inhibition of Af metabolism by Pf4 could be overcome with supplemental ferric iron, with preformed biofilm more resistant to reversal. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a bacterium producing a phage that inhibits the growth of a fungus and the first description of a phage behaving as an iron chelator in a biological system.
Gas vesicles are intracellular proteinaceous organelles that facilitate bacterial colonization of static water columns. In the enterobacterium Serratia sp. ATCC 39006, gas vesicle formation requires the proteins GvpA1, GvpF1, GvpG, GvpA2, GvpK, GvpA3, GvpF2 and GvpF3 and the three gas vesicle regulatory proteins GvrA, GvrB and GvrC. Deletion of gvpC alters gas vesicle robustness and deletion of gvpN or gvpV results in small bicone vesicles. In this work, we assessed the impacts on gas vesicle formation when each of these 14 essential proteins was overexpressed. Overproduction of GvpF1, GvpF2, GvrA, GvrB or GvrC all resulted in significantly reduced gas vesicle synthesis. Perturbations in gas vesicle formation were also observed when GvpV and GvpA3 were in excess. In addition to impacts on gas vesicle formation, overproduction of GvrA or GvrB led to elevated biosynthesis of the tripyrrole pigment, prodigiosin, a secondary metabolite of increasing medical interest due to its antimalarial and anticancer properties. Finally, when GvpG was overexpressed, gas vesicles were still produced, but the cells exhibited a growth defect. Further analysis showed that induction of GvpG arrested cell growth and caused a drop in viable count, suggesting a possible physiological role for this protein linking gas vesicle biogenesis and binary fission. These combined results demonstrate that the stoichiometry of individual gas vesicle proteins is crucially important for controlled organelle morphogenesis and flotation and provides evidence for the first link between gas vesicle assembly and cell division, to our knowledge.