Identification and characterization of a highly motile and antibiotic refractory subpopulation involved in the expansion of swarming colonies of Paenibacillus vortex

Dalit Roth, Alin Finkelshtein, Colin Ingham, Yael Helman, Alexandra Sirota-Madi, Leonid Brodsky, Eshel Ben-Jacob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bacteria often use sophisticated cooperative behaviours, such as the development of complex colonies, elaborate biofilms and advanced dispersal strategies, to cope with the harsh and variable conditions of natural habitats, including the presence of antibiotics. Paenibacillus vortex uses swarming motility and cell-to-cell communication to form complex, structured colonies. The modular organization of P.vortex colony has been found to facilitate its dispersal on agar surfaces. The current study reveals that the complex structure of the colony is generated by the coexistence and transition between two morphotypes - 'builders' and 'explorers' - with distinct functions in colony formation. Here, we focused on the explorers, which are highly motile and spearhead colonial expansion. Explorers are characterized by high expression levels of flagellar genes, such as flagellin (hag), motA, fliI, flgK and sigD, hyperflagellation, decrease in ATP (adenosine-5′-triphosphate) levels, and increased resistance to antibiotics. Their tolerance to many antibiotics gives them the advantage of translocation through antibiotics-containing areas. This work gives new insights on the importance of cell differentiation and task distribution in colony morphogenesis and adaptation to antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2532-2544
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Volume15
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology

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