Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is a Gram-negative bacterium that preys on other Gram-negative bacteria. The lifecycle of B. bacteriovorus alternates between an extracellular flagellated and highly motile non-replicative attack-phase cell and a periplasmic non-flagellated growth-phase cell. The prey bacterium containing periplasmic bdellovibrios becomes spherical but osmotically stable, forming a structure known as the bdelloplast. After completing the growth phase, newly formed bdellovibrios regain their flagellum and escape the bdelloplast into the environment, where they encounter more prey bacteria. The obligate predatory nature of B. bacteriovorus imposes a major difficulty to introducing mutations in genes directly involved in predation, since these mutants could be non-viable. This work reports the cloning of the B. bacteriovorus 109J motAB operon, encoding proteins from the flagellar motor complex, and a genetic approach based on the expression of a motA antisense RNA fragment to downregulate motility. Periplasmic bdellovibrios carrying the plasmid expressing antisense RNA displayed a marked delay in escaping from bdelloplasts, while the released attack-phase cells showed altered motility. These observations suggest that a functionally intact flagellar motor is required for the predatory lifecycle of B. bacteriovorus. Also, the use of antisense RNA expression may be a useful genetic tool to study the Bdellovibrio developmental cycle.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Microbiology (Reading, England)|
|Issue number||Pt 3|
|Publication status||Published - 2004|