April 21, 2020  |  

Variation in genome content and predatory phenotypes between Bdellovibrio sp. NC01 isolated from soil and B. bacteriovorus type strain HD100

The range of naturally occurring variation in the ability of Bdellovibrio strains to attack and kill Gram-negative bacteria is not well understood. Defining phenotypic and associated genotypic variation among Bdellovibrio may further our understanding of how this genus impacts microbial communities. In addition, comparisons of the predatory phenotypes of divergent strains may inform the development of Bdellovibrio as biocontrol agents to combat bacterial infections. We isolated Bdellovibrio sp. NC01 from soil and compared its genome and predatory phenotypes to B. bacteriovorus type strain HD100. Based on analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences and average amino acid identity, NC01 belongs to a different species than HD100. Genome-wide comparisons and individual gene analyses indicated that eight NC01 genome regions were likely acquired by horizontal gene transfer (HGT), further supporting an important role for HGT in Bdellovibrio genome evolution. Within these regions, multiple protein-coding sequences were assigned predicted functions related to transcriptional regulation and transport; however, most were annotated as hypothetical proteins. Compared to HD100, NC01 has a limited prey range and kills E. coli ML35 less efficiently. Whereas HD100 drastically reduces the ML35 population and then maintains low prey population density, NC01 causes a smaller reduction in ML35, after which the prey population recovers, accompanied by a decrease in NC01. In addition, NC01 forms turbid plaques on lawns of E. coli ML35, in contrast to clear plaques formed by HD100. Characterizing variation in interactions between Bdellovibrio and Gram-negative bacteria, such as observed with NC01 and HD100, is valuable for understanding the ecological significance of predatory bacteria and evaluating their effectiveness in clinical applications.

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