The deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium profundum is an established model for studying high pressure adaptation. In this paper we analyse the parental strain DB110 and the toxR mutant TW30 by massively parallel cDNA sequencing (RNA-seq). ToxR is a transmembrane DNA-binding protein first discovered in Vibrio cholerae, where it regulates a considerable number of genes involved in environmental adaptation and virulence. In P. profundum the abundance and activity of this protein is influenced by hydrostatic pressure and its role is related to the regulation of genes in a pressure-dependent manner.
To better characterize the ToxR regulon, we compared the expression profiles of wt and toxR strains in response to pressure changes. Our results revealed a complex expression pattern with a group of 22 genes having expression profiles similar to OmpH that is an outer membrane protein transcribed in response to high hydrostatic pressure. Moreover, RNA-seq allowed a deep characterization of the transcriptional landscape that led to the identification of 460 putative small RNA genes and the detection of 298 protein-coding genes previously unknown. We were also able to perform a genome-wide prediction of operon structure, transcription start and termination sites, revealing an unexpected high number of genes (992) with large 5′-UTRs, long enough to harbour cis-regulatory RNA structures, suggesting a correlation between intergenic region size and UTR length.
This work led to a better understanding of high-pressure response in P. profundum. Furthermore, the high-resolution RNA-seq analysis revealed several unexpected features about transcriptional landscape and general mechanisms of controlling bacterial gene expression.
High-pressure adaptation; Deep sea; Extremophile; Transcription; Operon; RNA-seq; UTR; Vibrionaceae; Photobacterium profundum; ToxR
Analysis of the complete genome of Thermococcus sp. strain AM4, which was the first lithotrophic Thermococcales isolate described and the first archaeal isolate to exhibit a capacity for hydrogenogenic carboxydotrophy, reveals a proximity with Thermococcus gammatolerans, corresponding to close but distinct species that differ significantly in their lithotrophic capacities.
Cultivated psychropiezophilic (low-temperature- and high-pressure-adapted) bacteria are currently restricted to phylogenetically narrow groupings capable of growth under nutrient-replete conditions, limiting current knowledge of the extant functional attributes and evolutionary constraints of diverse microorganisms inhabiting the cold, deep ocean. This study documents the isolation of a deep-sea bacterium following dilution-to-extinction cultivation using a natural seawater medium at high hydrostatic pressure and low temperature. To our knowledge, this isolate, designated PRT1, is the slowest-growing (minimal doubling time, 36 h) and lowest cell density-producing (maximal densities of 5.0 × 106 cells ml−1) piezophile yet obtained. Optimal growth was at 80 MPa, correlating with the depth of capture (8,350 m), and 10°C, with average cell sizes of 1.46 μm in length and 0.59 μm in width. Through detailed growth studies, we provide further evidence for the temperature-pressure dependence of the growth rate for deep-ocean bacteria. PRT1 was phylogenetically placed within the Roseobacter clade, a bacterial lineage known for widespread geographic distribution and assorted lifestyle strategies in the marine environment. Additionally, the gene transfer agent (GTA) g5 capsid protein gene was amplified from PRT1, indicating a potential mechanism for increased genetic diversification through horizontal gene transfer within the hadopelagic environment. This study provides a phylogenetically novel isolate for future investigations of high-pressure adaptation, expands the known physiological traits of cultivated members of the Roseobacter lineage, and demonstrates the feasibility of cultivating novel microbial members from the deep ocean using natural seawater.
The paucity of sequence data from pelagic deep-ocean microbial assemblages has severely restricted molecular exploration of the largest biome on Earth. In this study, an analysis is presented of a large-scale 454-pyrosequencing metagenomic dataset from a hadopelagic environment from 6,000 m depth within the Puerto Rico Trench (PRT). A total of 145 Mbp of assembled sequence data was generated and compared to two pelagic deep ocean metagenomes and two representative surface seawater datasets from the Sargasso Sea. In a number of instances, all three deep metagenomes displayed similar trends, but were most magnified in the PRT, including enrichment in functions for two-component signal transduction mechanisms and transcriptional regulation. Overrepresented transporters in the PRT metagenome included outer membrane porins, diverse cation transporters, and di- and tri-carboxylate transporters that matched well with the prevailing catabolic processes such as butanoate, glyoxylate and dicarboxylate metabolism. A surprisingly high abundance of sulfatases for the degradation of sulfated polysaccharides were also present in the PRT. The most dramatic adaptational feature of the PRT microbes appears to be heavy metal resistance, as reflected in the large numbers of transporters present for their removal. As a complement to the metagenome approach, single-cell genomic techniques were utilized to generate partial whole-genome sequence data from four uncultivated cells from members of the dominant phyla within the PRT, Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Planctomycetes. The single-cell sequence data provided genomic context for many of the highly abundant functional attributes identified from the PRT metagenome, as well as recruiting heavily the PRT metagenomic sequence data compared to 172 available reference marine genomes. Through these multifaceted sequence approaches, new insights have been provided into the unique functional attributes present in microbes residing in a deeper layer of the ocean far removed from the more productive sun-drenched zones above.
In Nature, bacteria rarely exist as single, isolated entities, but rather as communities comprised of many other species including higher host organisms. To survive in these competitive environments, microorganisms have developed elaborate tactics such as the formation of biofilms and the production of antimicrobial toxins. Recently, it was discovered that the Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen, produces an antibiotic, 3-(1-hydroxydecylidene)-5-(2-hydroxyethyl)pyrrolidine-2,4-dione (C12-TA), derived from one of its quorum sensing molecules. Here, we present a comprehensive study of the expanded spectrum of C12-TA antibacterial activity against microbial competitors encountered by P. aeruginosa in Nature as well as significant human pathogens. The mechanism of action of C12-TA was also elucidated and C12-TA was found to dissipate both the membrane potential and pH gradient of Gram-positive bacteria, correlating well with cell death. Notably, in stark contrast to its parent molecule 3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL), neither activation of cellular stress pathways nor cytotoxicity was observed in human cells treated with C12-TA. Our results suggest that the QS machinery of P. aeruginosa has evolved for a dual-function, both to signal others of the same species, and also to defend against both host immunity and competing bacteria. Because of the broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, established mode of action, lack of rapid resistance development, and tolerance by human cells, the C12-TA scaffold may also serve as a new lead compound for the development of antimicrobial therapeutics.
The molecular mechanism(s) by which deep-sea bacteria grow optimally under high hydrostatic pressure at low temperatures is poorly understood. To gain further insight into the mechanism(s), a previous study screened transposon mutant libraries of the deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium profundum SS9 and identified mutants which exhibited alterations in growth at high pressure relative to that of the parent strain. Two of these mutants, FL23 (PBPRA3229::mini-Tn10) and FL28 (PBPRA1039::mini-Tn10), were found to have high-pressure sensitivity and enhanced-growth phenotypes, respectively. The PBPRA3229 and PBPRA1039 genes encode proteins which are highly similar to Escherichia coli DiaA, a positive regulator, and SeqA, a negative regulator, respectively, of the initiation of DNA replication. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that PBPRA3229 and PBPRA1039 encode DiaA and SeqA homologs, respectively. Consistent with this, we determined that the plasmid-carried PBPRA3229 and PBPRA1039 genes restored synchrony to the initiation of DNA replication in E. coli mutants lacking DiaA and SeqA, respectively. Additionally, PBPRA3229 restored the cold sensitivity phenotype of an E. coli dnaA(Cs) diaA double mutant whereas PBPRA1039 suppressed the cold sensitivity phenotype of an E. coli dnaA(Cs) single mutant. Taken together, these findings show that the genes disrupted in FL23 and FL28 encode DiaA and SeqA homologs, respectively. Consequently, our findings add support to a model whereby high pressure affects the initiation of DNA replication in P. profundum SS9 and either the presence of a positive regulator (DiaA) or the removal of a negative regulator (SeqA) promotes growth under these conditions.
Indole has been proposed to act as an extracellular signal molecule influencing biofilm formation in a range of bacteria. For this study, the role of indole in Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation was examined. It was shown that indole activates genes involved in vibrio polysaccharide (VPS) production, which is essential for V. cholerae biofilm formation. In addition to activating these genes, it was determined using microarrays that indole influences the expression of many other genes, including those involved in motility, protozoan grazing resistance, iron utilization, and ion transport. A transposon mutagenesis screen revealed additional components of the indole-VPS regulatory circuitry. The indole signaling cascade includes the DksA protein along with known regulators of VPS production, VpsR and CdgA. A working model is presented in which global control of gene expression by indole is coordinated through σ54 and associated transcriptional regulators.
Motility is a critical function needed for nutrient acquisition, biofilm formation, and the avoidance of harmful chemicals and predators. Flagellar motility is one of the most pressure-sensitive cellular processes in mesophilic bacteria; therefore, it is ecologically relevant to determine how deep-sea microbes have adapted their motility systems for functionality at depth. In this study, the motility of the deep-sea piezophilic bacterium Photobacterium profundum SS9 was investigated and compared with that of the related shallow-water piezosensitive strain Photobacterium profundum 3TCK, as well as that of the well-studied piezosensitive bacterium Escherichia coli. The SS9 genome contains two flagellar gene clusters: a polar flagellum gene cluster (PF) and a putative lateral flagellum gene cluster (LF). In-frame deletions were constructed in the two flagellin genes located within the PF cluster (flaA and flaC), the one flagellin gene located within the LF cluster (flaB), a component of a putative sodium-driven flagellar motor (motA2), and a component of a putative proton-driven flagellar motor (motA1). SS9 PF flaA, flaC, and motA2 mutants were defective in motility under all conditions tested. In contrast, the flaB and motA1 mutants were defective only under conditions of high pressure and high viscosity. flaB and motA1 gene expression was strongly induced by elevated pressure plus increased viscosity. Direct swimming velocity measurements were obtained using a high-pressure microscopic chamber, where increases in pressure resulted in a striking decrease in swimming velocity for E. coli and a gradual reduction for 3TCK which proceeded up to 120 MPa, while SS9 increased swimming velocity at 30 MPa and maintained motility up to a maximum pressure of 150 MPa. Our results indicate that P. profundum SS9 possesses two distinct flagellar systems, both of which have acquired dramatic adaptations for optimal functionality under high-pressure conditions.
Microorganisms adapted to piezopsychrophilic growth dominate the majority of the biosphere that is at relatively constant low temperatures and high pressures, but the genetic bases for the adaptations are largely unknown. Here we report the use of transposon mutagenesis with the deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium profundum strain SS9 to isolate dozens of mutant strains whose growth is impaired at low temperature and/or whose growth is altered as a function of hydrostatic pressure. In many cases the gene mutation-growth phenotype relationship was verified by complementation analysis. The largest fraction of loci associated with temperature sensitivity were involved in the biosynthesis of the cell envelope, in particular the biosynthesis of extracellular polysaccharide. The largest fraction of loci associated with pressure sensitivity were involved in chromosomal structure and function. Genes for ribosome assembly and function were found to be important for both low-temperature and high-pressure growth. Likewise, both adaptation to temperature and adaptation to pressure were affected by mutations in a number of sensory and regulatory loci, suggesting the importance of signal transduction mechanisms in adaptation to either physical parameter. These analyses were the first global analyses of genes conditionally required for low-temperature or high-pressure growth in a deep-sea microorganism.
Despite its notoriety as a human pathogen, Vibrio cholerae is an aquatic microbe suited to live in freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments where biofilm formation may provide a selective advantage. Here we report characterization of biofilms formed on abiotic and biotic surfaces by two non-O1/O139 V. cholerae strains, TP and SIO, and by the O1 V. cholerae strain N16961 in addition to the isolation of 44 transposon mutants of SIO and TP impaired in biofilm formation. During the course of characterizing the mutants, 30 loci which have not previously been associated with V. cholerae biofilms were identified. These loci code for proteins which perform a wide variety of functions, including amino acid metabolism, ion transport, and gene regulation. Also, when the plankton colonization abilities of strains N16961, SIO, and TP were examined, each strain showed increased colonization of dead plankton compared with colonization of live plankton (the dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedrum and the copepod Tigriopus californicus). Surprisingly, most of the biofilm mutants were not impaired in plankton colonization. Only mutants impaired in motility or chemotaxis showed reduced colonization. These results indicate the presence of both conserved and variable genes which influence the surface colonization properties of different V. cholerae subspecies.
In the ocean's most extreme depths, pressures of 70 to 110 megapascals prevent the growth of all but the most hyperpiezophilic (pressure-loving) organisms. The physiological adaptations required for growth under these conditions are considered to be substantial. Efforts to determine specific adaptations permitting growth at extreme pressures have thus far focused on relatively few γ-proteobacteria, in part due to the technical difficulties of obtaining piezophilic bacteria in pure culture. Here, we present the molecular phylogenies of several new piezophiles of widely differing geographic origins. Included are results from an analysis of the first deep-trench bacterial isolates recovered from the southern hemisphere (9.9-km depth) and of the first gram-positive piezophilic strains. These new data allowed both phylogenetic and structural 16S rRNA comparisons among deep-ocean trench piezophiles and closely related strains not adapted to high pressure. Our results suggest that (i) the Circumpolar Deep Water acts as repository for hyperpiezophiles and drives their dissemination to deep trenches in the Pacific Ocean and (ii) the occurrence of elongated helices in the 16S rRNA genes increases with the extent of adaptation to growth at elevated pressure. These helix changes are believed to improve ribosome function under deep-sea conditions.
Changes in global climate have raised concerns about the emergence and resurgence of infectious diseases. Vibrio cholerae is a reemerging pathogen that proliferates and is transported on marine particles. Patterns of cholera outbreaks correlate with sea surface temperature increases, but the underlying mechanisms for rapid proliferation of V. cholerae during ocean warming events have yet to be fully elucidated. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that autochthonous marine bacteria impede the spread of V. cholerae in the marine environment. It was found that some marine bacteria are capable of inhibiting the growth of V. cholerae on surfaces and that bacterial isolates derived from pelagic particles show a greater frequency of V. cholerae inhibition than free-living bacteria. Vibrio cholerae was less susceptible to antagonism at higher temperatures, such as those measured during El Niño-Southern Oscilliation and monsoonal events. Using a model system employing green fluorescent protein-labeled bacteria, we found that marine bacteria can directly inhibit V. cholerae colonization of particles. The mechanism of inhibition in our model system was linked to the biosynthesis of andrimid, an antibacterial agent. Antibiotic production by the model antagonistic strain decreased at higher temperatures, thereby explaining the increased competitiveness of V. cholerae under warmer conditions. These findings suggest that bacterium-bacterium antagonism is a contributing mechanism in regulating the proliferation of V. cholerae on marine particles.
Vibrio cholerae has multiple survival strategies which are reflected both in its broad distribution in many aquatic environments and its high genotypic diversity. To obtain additional information regarding the content of the V. cholerae genome, suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) was used to prepare libraries of DNA sequences from two southern California coastal isolates which are divergent or absent in the clinical strain V. cholerae O1 El Tor N16961. More than 1,400 subtracted clones were sequenced. This revealed the presence of novel sequences encoding functions related to cell surface structures, transport, metabolism, signal transduction, luminescence, mobile elements, stress resistance, and virulence. Flanking sequence information was determined for loci of interest, and the distribution of these sequences was assessed for a collection of V. cholerae strains obtained from southern California and Mexican environments. This led to the surprising observation that sequences related to the toxin genes toxA, cnf1, and exoY are widespread and more common in these strains than those of the cholera toxin genes which are a hallmark of the pandemic strains of V. cholerae. Gene transfer among these strains could be facilitated by a 4.9-kbp plasmid discovered in one isolate, which possesses similarity to plasmids from other environmental vibrios. By investigating some of the nucleotide sequence basis for V. cholerae genotypic diversity, DNA fragments have been uncovered which could promote survival in coastal environments. Furthermore, a set of genes has been described which could be involved in as yet undiscovered interactions between V. cholerae and eukaryotic organisms.
We are currently investigating the role of ToxR-mediated gene regulation in Photobacterium profundum strain SS9. SS9 is a moderately piezophilic (“pressure loving”) psychrotolerant marine bacterium belonging to the family Vibrionaceae. In Vibrio cholerae, ToxR is a transmembrane DNA binding protein involved in mediating virulence gene expression in response to various environmental signals. A homolog to V. cholerae ToxR that is necessary for pressure-responsive gene expression of two outer membrane protein-encoding genes was previously found in SS9. To search for additional genes regulated by ToxR in SS9, we have used RNA arbitrarily primed PCR (RAP-PCR) with wild-type and toxR mutant strains of SS9. Seven ToxR-activated transcripts and one ToxR-repressed transcript were identified in this analysis. The cDNAs corresponding to these partial transcripts were cloned and sequenced, and ToxR regulation of their genes was verified. The products of these genes are all predicted to fall into one or both of two functional categories, those whose products alter membrane structure and/or those that are part of a starvation response. The transcript levels of all eight newly identified genes were also characterized as a function of hydrostatic pressure. Various patterns of pressure regulation were observed, indicating that ToxR activation or repression cannot be used to predict the influence of pressure on gene expression in SS9. These results provide further information on the nature of the ToxR regulon in SS9 and indicate that RAP-PCR is a useful approach for the discovery of new genes under the control of global regulatory transcription factors.
To more fully explore the role of unsaturated fatty acids in high-pressure, low-temperature growth, the fabF gene from the psychrotolerant, piezophilic deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium profundum strain SS9 was characterized and its role and regulation were examined. An SS9 strain harboring a disruption in the fabF gene (strain EA40) displayed growth impairment at elevated hydrostatic pressure concomitant with diminished cis-vaccenic acid (18:1) production. However, growth ability at elevated pressure could be restored to wild-type levels by the addition of exogenous 18:1 to the growth medium. Transcript analysis did not indicate that the SS9 fabF gene is transcriptionally regulated, suggesting that the elevated 18:1 levels produced in response to pressure increase result from posttranscriptional changes. Unlike many pressure-adapted bacterial species such as SS9, the mesophile Escherichia coli did not regulate its fatty acid composition in an adaptive manner in response to changes in hydrostatic pressure. Moreover, an E. coli fabF strain was as susceptible to elevated pressure as wild-type cells. It is proposed that the SS9 fabF product, β-ketoacyl–acyl carrier protein synthase II has evolved novel pressure-responsive characteristics which facilitate SS9 growth at high pressure.
There is considerable evidence correlating the production of increased proportions of membrane unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) with bacterial growth at low temperatures or high pressures. In order to assess the importance of UFAs to microbial growth under these conditions, the effects of conditions altering UFA levels in the psychrotolerant piezophilic deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium profundum SS9 were investigated. The fatty acids produced by P. profundum SS9 grown at various temperatures and pressures were characterized, and differences in fatty acid composition as a function of phase growth, and between inner and outer membranes, were noted. P. profundum SS9 was found to exhibit enhanced proportions of both monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fatty acids when grown at a decreased temperature or elevated pressure. Treatment of cells with cerulenin inhibited MUFA but not PUFA synthesis and led to a decreased growth rate and yield at low temperature and high pressure. In addition, oleic acid-auxotrophic mutants were isolated. One of these mutants, strain EA3, was deficient in the production of MUFAs and was both low-temperature sensitive and high-pressure sensitive in the absence of exogenous 18:1 fatty acid. Another mutant, strain EA2, produced little MUFA but elevated levels of the PUFA species eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3). This mutant grew slowly but was not low-temperature sensitive or high-pressure sensitive. Finally, reverse genetics was employed to construct a mutant unable to produce EPA. This mutant, strain EA10, was also not low-temperature sensitive or high-pressure sensitive. The significance of these results to the understanding of the role of UFAs in growth under low-temperature or high-pressure conditions is discussed.
A genomic library derived from the deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium profundum SS9 was conjugally delivered into a previously isolated pressure-sensitive SS9 mutant, designated EC1002 (E. Chi and D. H. Bartlett, J. Bacteriol. 175:7533–7540, 1993), and exconjugants were screened for the ability to grow at 280-atm hydrostatic pressure. Several clones were identified that had restored high-pressure growth. The complementing DNA was localized and in all cases found to possess strong homology to recD, a DNA recombination and repair gene. EC1002 was found to be deficient in plasmid stability, a phenotype also seen in Escherichia coli recD mutants. The defect in EC1002 was localized to a point mutation that created a stop codon within the recD gene. Two additional recD mutants were constructed by gene disruption and were both found to possess a pressure-sensitive growth phenotype, although the magnitude of the defect depended on the extent of 3′ truncation of the recD coding sequence. Surprisingly, the introduction of the SS9 recD gene into an E. coli recD mutant had two dramatic effects. At high pressure, SS9 recD enabled growth in the E. coli mutant strain under conditions of plasmid antibiotic resistance selection and prevented cell filamentation. Both of these effects were recessive to wild-type E. coli recD. These results suggest that the SS9 recD gene plays an essential role in SS9 growth at high pressure and that it may be possible to identify additional aspects of RecD function through the characterization of this activity.
Marinitoga piezophila KA3 is a thermophilic, anaerobic, chemoorganotrophic, sulfur-reducing bacterium isolated from the Grandbonum deep-sea hydrothermal vent site at the East Pacific Rise (13°N, 2,630-m depth). The genome of M. piezophila KA3 comprises a 2,231,407-bp circular chromosome and a 13,386-bp circular plasmid. This genome was sequenced within Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute CSP 2010.
Oceans cover approximately 70% of the Earth's surface with an average depth of 3800 m and a pressure of 38 MPa, thus a large part of the biosphere is occupied by high pressure environments. Piezophilic (pressure-loving) organisms are adapted to deep-sea life and grow optimally at pressures higher than 0.1 MPa. To better understand high pressure adaptation from a genomic point of view three different Photobacterium profundum strains were compared. Using the sequenced piezophile P. profundum strain SS9 as a reference, microarray technology was used to identify the genomic regions missing in two other strains: a pressure adapted strain (named DSJ4) and a pressure-sensitive strain (named 3TCK). Finally, the transcriptome of SS9 grown under different pressure (28 MPa; 45 MPa) and temperature (4°C; 16°C) conditions was analyzed taking into consideration the differentially expressed genes belonging to the flexible gene pool.
These studies indicated the presence of a large flexible gene pool in SS9 characterized by various horizontally acquired elements. This was verified by extensive analysis of GC content, codon usage and genomic signature of the SS9 genome. 171 open reading frames (ORFs) were found to be specifically absent or highly divergent in the piezosensitive strain, but present in the two piezophilic strains. Among these genes, six were found to also be up-regulated by high pressure.
These data provide information on horizontal gene flow in the deep sea, provide additional details of P. profundum genome expression patterns and suggest genes which could perform critical functions for abyssal survival, including perhaps high pressure growth.