A Novel Cellular Autoaggregative Developmentally CRP Regulated Behaviour Generates Massively Chondrule-Like Formations over Surface of Old Escherichia coli K-12 Macrocolony Biofilms


How Escherichia coli bacteria develop a particular colonial, 3-D biofilm morphological pattern is still a poorly understood process. Recently, we reported a new E. coli K-12 morphotype exhibited by old macrocolonies described as volcano-like. The formative developmental process of this morphotype has been presented as a suitable experimental model for the study of 3D patterning in macrocolony biofilms. Here, we report the optical microscopy observations and genetic analysis that have unveiled the existence of a novel autoaggregative behaviour which generates massive lumpiness over the surface of the volcano-like macrocolonies. These lumpy formations are generated by the autoaggregation and strong interaction of tightly packed bacterial cells in structures with a chondrule-like appearance which give the colony’s surface its characteristic microscopic lumpy phenotype. Furthermore, they exhibit different levels of maturation from the edge to the center of the colony. Hence, its generation appears to follow a spatiotemporal program of development during the macrocolony’s morphogenesis. Interestingly, the agar’s hardness influences the morphology exhibited by these formations, with high agar concentration (1.5%, 15 g/L) suppressing its development. This new auto-aggregative E. coli’s behaviour does not require the activity of the biofilm master regulator CsgD, the adhesiveness of flagella, pili type 1, adhesin Ag43, β-1,6-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine polymer-PGA, cellulose or colanic acid, but it is under glucose repression and the control of cAMP receptor protein (CRP). The possible physiological role of these chondrule-like formations in the adaptability of the colony to different stressful environmental conditions is discussed.

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Gómez Gómez, J. and Amils, R. (2014) A Novel Cellular Autoaggregative Developmentally CRP Regulated Behaviour Generates Massively Chondrule-Like Formations over Surface of Old Escherichia coli K-12 Macrocolony Biofilms. Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 5, 727-739. doi: 10.4236/abb.2014.59086.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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