Evidence for quorum sensing and differential metabolite production by a marine bacterium in response to DMSP
Johnson, Winifred M.
Kido Soule, Melissa C.
Kujawinski, Elizabeth B.
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Microbes, the foundation of the marine foodweb, do not function in isolation, but rather rely on molecular level interactions among species to thrive. Although certain types of interactions between autotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms have been well documented, the role of specific organic molecules in regulating inter-species relationships and supporting growth are only beginning to be understood. Here, we examine one such interaction by characterizing the metabolic response of a heterotrophic marine bacterium, Ruegeria pomeroyi DSS-3, to growth on dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), an abundant organosulfur metabolite produced by phytoplankton. When cultivated on DMSP, R. pomeroyi synthesized a quorum-sensing molecule, N-(3-oxotetradecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone, at significantly higher levels than during growth on propionate. Concomitant with the production of a quorum-sensing molecule, we observed differential production of intra- and extracellular metabolites including glutamine, vitamin B2 and biosynthetic intermediates of cyclic amino acids. Our metabolomics data indicate that R. pomeroyi changes regulation of its biochemical pathways in a manner that is adaptive for a cooperative lifestyle in the presence of DMSP, in anticipation of phytoplankton-derived nutrients and higher microbial density. This behavior is likely to occur on sinking marine particles, indicating that this response may impact the fate of organic matter.
© The Author(s), 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in The ISME Journal 10 (2016): 2304–2316, doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.6.
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