Taxonomic studies of the past few years have shown that the Burkholderia cepacia complex, a heterogeneous group of B. cepacia-like organisms, consists of at least nine species. B. cepacia complex strains are ubiquitously distributed in nature and have been used for biocontrol, bioremediation, and plant growth promotion purposes. At the same time, B. cepacia complex strains have emerged as important opportunistic pathogens of humans, particularly those with cystic fibrosis. All B. cepacia complex species investigated thus far use quorum-sensing (QS) systems that rely on N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) signal molecules to express certain functions, including the production of extracellular proteases, swarming motility, biofilm formation, and pathogenicity, in a population-density-dependent manner. In this study we constructed a broad-host-range plasmid that allowed the heterologous expression of the Bacillus sp. strain 240B1 AiiA lactonase, which hydrolyzes the lactone ring of various AHL signal molecules, in all described B. cepacia complex species. We show that expression of AiiA abolished or greatly reduced the accumulation of AHL molecules in the culture supernatants of all tested B. cepacia complex strains. Phenotypic characterization of wild-type and transgenic strains revealed that protease production, swarming motility, biofilm formation, and Caenorhabditis elegans killing efficiency was regulated by AHL in the large majority of strains investigated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)