The deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium profundum SS9 utilizes separate flagellar systems for swimming and swarming under high-pressure conditions

Emiley A. Eloe, Federico M. Lauro, Rudi F. Vogel, Douglas H. Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6298-6305
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume74
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes

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