In-Depth Genomic and Phenotypic Characterization of the Antarctic Psychrotolerant Strain Pseudomonas sp. MPC6 Reveals Unique Metabolic Features, Plasticity, and Biotechnological Potential.
We obtained the complete genome sequence of the psychrotolerant extremophile Pseudomonas sp. MPC6, a natural Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) producing bacterium able to rapidly grow at low temperatures. Genomic and phenotypic analyses allowed us to situate this isolate inside the Pseudomonas fluorescens phylogroup of pseudomonads as well as to reveal its metabolic versatility and plasticity. The isolate possesses the gene machinery for metabolizing a variety of toxic aromatic compounds such as toluene, phenol, chloroaromatics, and TNT. In addition, it can use both C6- and C5-carbon sugars like xylose and arabinose as carbon substrates, an uncommon feature for bacteria of this genus. Furthermore, Pseudomonas sp. MPC6 exhibits a high-copy number of genes encoding for enzymes involved in oxidative and cold-stress response that allows it to cope with high concentrations of heavy metals (As, Cd, Cu) and low temperatures, a finding that was further validated experimentally. We then assessed the growth performance of MPC6 on glycerol using a temperature range from 0 to 45°C, the latter temperature corresponding to the limit at which this Antarctic isolate was no longer able to propagate. On the other hand, the MPC6 genome comprised considerably less virulence and drug resistance factors as compared to pathogenic Pseudomonas strains, thus supporting its safety. Unexpectedly, we found five PHA synthases within the genome of MPC6, one of which clustered separately from the other four. This PHA synthase shared only 40% sequence identity at the amino acid level against the only PHA polymerase described for Pseudomonas (63-1 strain) able to produce copolymers of short- and medium-chain length PHAs. Batch cultures for PHA synthesis in Pseudomonas sp. MPC6 using sugars, decanoate, ethylene glycol, and organic acids as carbon substrates result in biopolymers with different monomer compositions. This indicates that the PHA synthases play a critical role in defining not only the final chemical structure of the biosynthesized PHA, but also the employed biosynthetic pathways. Based on the results obtained, we conclude that Pseudomonas sp. MPC6 can be exploited as a bioremediator and biopolymer factory, as well as a model strain to unveil molecular mechanisms behind adaptation to cold and extreme environments.