Matrix polysaccharides and SiaD diguanylate cyclase alter community structure and competitiveness of Pseudomonas aeruginosa during dual-species biofilm development with Staphylococcus aureus
Reference: mBio (2018) 9: e00585-00518

Mixed-species biofilms display a number of emergent properties, including enhanced antimicrobial tolerance and communal metabolism. These properties may depend on interspecies relationships and the structure of the biofilm. However, the contribution of specific matrix components to emergent properties of mixed-species biofilms remains poorly understood. Using a dual-species biofilm community formed by the opportunistic pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, we found that whilst neither Pel nor Psl polysaccharides, produced by P. aeruginosa, affect relative species abundance in mature P. aeruginosa and S. aureus biofilms, Psl production is associated with increased P. aeruginosa abundance and reduced S. aureus aggregation in the early stages of biofilm formation. Our data suggest that the competitive effect of Psl is not associated with its structural role in cross-linking the matrix and adhering to P. aeruginosa cells but is instead mediated through the activation of the diguanylate cyclase SiaD. This regulatory control was also found to be independent of the siderophore pyoverdine and Pseudomonas quinolone signal, which have previously been proposed to reduce S. aureus viability by inducing lactic acid fermentation-based growth. In contrast to the effect mediated by Psl, Pel reduced the effective crosslinking of the biofilm matrix and facilitated superdiffusivity in microcolony regions. These changes in matrix cross-linking enhance biofilm surface spreading and expansion of microcolonies in the later stages of biofilm development, improving overall dual-species biofilm growth and increasing biovolume severalfold. Thus, the biofilm matrix and regulators associated with matrix production play essential roles in mixed-species biofilm interactions. Bacteria in natural and engineered environments form biofilms that include many different species. Microorganisms rely on a number of different strategies to manage social interactions with other species and to access resources, build biofilm consortia, and optimize growth. For example, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are biofilm-forming bacteria that coinfect the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients and diabetic and chronic wounds. P. aeruginosa is known to antagonise S. aureus growth. However, many of the factors responsible for mixed-species interactions and outcomes such as infections are poorly understood. Biofilm bacteria are encased in a self-produced extracellular matrix that facilitates interspecies behavior and biofilm development. In this study, we examined the poorly understood roles of the major matrix biopolymers and their regulators in mixed-species biofilm interactions and development.

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