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1.  Protein as Chemical Cue: Non-Nutritional Growth Enhancement by Exogenous Protein in Pseudomonas putida KT2440 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103730.
Research pertaining to microbe-microbe and microbe-plant interactions has been largely limited to small molecules like quorum sensing chemicals. However, a few recent reports have indicated the role of complex molecules like proteins and polysaccharides in microbial communication. Here we demonstrate that exogenous proteins present in culture media can considerably accelerate the growth of Pseudomonas putida KT2440, even when such proteins are not internalized by the cells. The growth enhancement is observed when the exogenous protein is not used as a source of carbon or nitrogen. The data show non-specific nature of the protein inducing growth; growth enhancement was observed irrespective of the protein type. It is shown that growth enhancement is mediated via increased siderophore secretion in response to the exogenous protein, leading to better iron uptake. We highlight the ecological significance of the observation and hypothesize that exogenous proteins serve as chemical cues in the case of P.putida and are perceived as indicator of the presence of competitors in the environment. It is argued that enhanced siderophore secretion in response to exogenous protein helps P.putida establish numerical superiority over competitors by way of enhanced iron assimilation and quicker utilization of aromatic substrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103730
PMCID: PMC4130607  PMID: 25117434
2.  Disruption of Microbial Biofilms by an Extracellular Protein Isolated from Epibiotic Tropical Marine Strain of Bacillus licheniformis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64501.
Background
Marine epibiotic bacteria produce bioactive compounds effective against microbial biofilms. The study examines antibiofilm ability of a protein obtained from a tropical marine strain of Bacillus licheniformis D1.
Methodology/Principal Findings
B. licheniformis strain D1 isolated from the surface of green mussel, Perna viridis showed antimicrobial activity against pathogenic Candida albicans BH, Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 and biofouling Bacillus pumilus TiO1 cultures. The antimicrobial activity was lost after treatment with trypsin and proteinase K. The protein was purified by ultrafiltration and size-exclusion chromatography. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) analysis revealed the antimicrobial agent to be a 14 kDa protein designated as BL-DZ1. The protein was stable at 75°C for 30 min and over a pH range of 3.0 to 11.0. The sequence alignment of the MALDI-fingerprint showed homology with the NCBI entry for a hypothetical protein (BL00275) derived from B. licheniformis ATCC 14580 with the accession number gi52082584. The protein showed minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of 1.6 µg/ml against C. albicans. Against both P. aeruginosa and B. pumilus the MIC was 3.12 µg/ml. The protein inhibited microbial growth, decreased biofilm formation and dispersed pre-formed biofilms of the representative cultures in polystyrene microtiter plates and on glass surfaces.
Conclusion/Significance
We isolated a protein from a tropical marine strain of B. licheniformis, assigned a function to the hypothetical protein entry in the NCBI database and described its application as a potential antibiofilm agent.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064501
PMCID: PMC3655075  PMID: 23691235
3.  Disruption of Yarrowia lipolytica biofilms by rhamnolipid biosurfactant 
Aquatic Biosystems  2012;8:17.
Background
Yarrowia lipolytica is an ascomycetous dimorphic fungus that exhibits biofilm mode of growth. Earlier work has shown that biosurfactants such as rhamnolipids are efficient dispersants of bacterial biofilms. However, their effectiveness against fungal biofilms (particularly Y. lipolytica) has not been investigated. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of rhamnolipid on a biofilm forming strain of Y. lipolytica. Two chemical surfactants, cetyl-trimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) and sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) were used as controls for comparison.
Results
The methylene blue dye exclusion assay indicated an increase in fungal cell permeability after rhamnolipid treatment. Microtiter plate assay showed that the surfactant coating decreased Y. lipolytica biofilm formation by 50%. Rhamnolipid treatment disrupted pre-formed biofilms in a more effective manner than the other two surfactants. Confocal laser scanning microscopic studies showed that biofilm formation onto glass surfaces was decreased by 67% after sub-minimum inhibitory concentration (sub-MIC) treatment with rhamnolipids. The disruption of biofilms after rhamnolipid treatment was significant (P<0.05) when compared to SDS and CTAB.
Conclusion
The results indicate a potential application of the biological surfactant to disrupt Y. lipolytica biofilms.
doi:10.1186/2046-9063-8-17
PMCID: PMC3445841  PMID: 22839701
Biofilm; Biosurfactant; CTAB; Rhamnolipid; SDS; Yarrowia lipolytica
4.  Novel Biocatalytic Polymer-Based Antimicrobial Coatings as Potential Ureteral Biomaterial: Preparation and In Vitro Performance Evaluation▿  
Catheters and other indwelling devices placed inside human body are prone to bacterial infection, causing serious risk to patients. Infections associated with implants are difficult to resolve, and hence the prevention of bacterial colonization of such surfaces is quite appropriate. In this context, the development of novel antimicrobial biomaterials is currently gaining momentum. We describe here the preparation and antibacterial properties of an enzyme-embedded polycaprolactone (PCL)-based coating, coimpregnated with the antibiotic gentamicin sulfate (GS). The enzyme uses PCL itself as substrate; as a result, the antibiotic gets released at a rate controlled by the degradation of the PCL base. In vitro drug release studies demonstrated sustained release of GS from the PCL film throughout its lifetime. By modulating the enzyme concentration in the PCL film, we were able to vary the lifetime of the coating from 33 h to 16 days. In the end, the polymer is completely degraded, delivering the entire load of the antibiotic. The polymer exhibited antibacterial properties against three test isolates: Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus. Foley urinary catheters coated with the modified polymer exhibited sustained in vitro release of GS over a 60-h period. The results suggest that the antibiotic-plus-enzyme-loaded polymer can be used as tunable self-degrading antimicrobial biomaterial coating on catheters.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00477-10
PMCID: PMC3028754  PMID: 21135190
5.  Competition Triggers Plasmid-Mediated Enhancement of Substrate Utilisation in Pseudomonas putida 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e6065.
Competition between species plays a central role in the activity and structure of communities. Stable co-existence of diverse organisms in communities is thought to be fostered by individual tradeoffs and optimization of competitive strategies along resource gradients. Outside the laboratory, microbes exist as multispecies consortia, continuously interacting with one another and the environment. Survival and proliferation of a particular species is governed by its competitive fitness. Therefore, bacteria must be able to continuously sense their immediate environs for presence of competitors and prevailing conditions. Here we present results of our investigations on a novel competition sensing mechanism in the rhizosphere-inhabiting Pseudomonas putida KT2440, harbouring gfpmut3b-modified KanR TOL plasmid. We monitored benzyl alcohol (BA) degradation rate, along with GFP expression profiling in mono species and dual species cultures. Interestingly, enhanced plasmid expression (monitored using GFP expression) and consequent BA degradation were observed in dual species consortia, irrespective of whether the competitor was a BA degrader (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) or a non-degrader (E. coli). Attempts at elucidation of the mechanistic aspects of induction indicated the role of physical interaction, but not of any diffusible compounds emanating from the competitors. This contention is supported by the observation that greater induction took place in presence of increasing number of competitors. Inert microspheres mimicking competitor cell size and concentration did not elicit any significant induction, further suggesting the role of physical cell-cell interaction. Furthermore, it was also established that cell wall compromised competitor had minimal induction capability. We conclude that P. putida harbouring pWW0 experience a competitive stress when grown as dual-species consortium, irrespective of the counterpart being BA degrader or not. The immediate effect of this stress is a marked increase in expression of TOL, leading to rapid utilization of the available carbon source and massive increase in its population density. The plausible mechanisms behind the phenomenon are hypothesised and practical implications are indicated and discussed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006065
PMCID: PMC2698150  PMID: 19557171

Results 1-5 (5)