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Co-operation and Group structure in Bacterial Biofilms

Co-operation and Group structure in Bacterial Biofilms
Co-operation and Group structure in Bacterial Biofilms
A key problem in understanding major transitions in evolution is the evolution of cooperation: how are mutants that exploit the benefits of cooperation without paying the costs (cheats) suppressed within populations? Biofilms, which display properties of both single cell and multicellular organisms, provide an excellent model system to address this question. Biofilms exhibit grouped population structure – they exist primarily as dense aggregates of cells called microcolonies. We aim to test the hypothesis that cell-grouping displayed by microcolonies in bacterial biofilms provides a mechanism to suppress cheats within the biofilm population. We are using the co-operative trait of siderophore production (an extracellular iron-chelating molecule) within Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms to investigate cooperation in biofilms. Under iron-limited conditions, production of siderophores enhanced wild type growth, but microcolonies containing GFP-tagged, pyoverdin-mutant ‘cheats’ developed poorly. In iron-rich conditions, cheats are favoured as siderophore production is costly. With mixed strain biofilms, cheats are dependant on the wild type for successful growth. We suggest that, if cheats reduce colony size, thus self-limiting their global population, microcolony-based group structures may be an important (potentially evolved) mechanism to suppress cheats in bacterial populations.
Penn, Alexandra S
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Powers, Simon T
474bffcd-e5ab-4be0-89fe-b0d0b2bdf2c1
Conibear, Tim
2e84977d-07ce-4252-a24b-cd97b1c9c881
Kraaijeveld, Alex
81005421-2704-4ec3-ac2f-ad30b549218a
Watson, Richard
ce199dfc-d5d4-4edf-bd7b-f9e224c96c75
Bigg, Zoe
2ce98fb6-65c7-4473-ab46-b17d998da18a
Webb, Jeremy
7d2a2c36-ebb8-477e-b08e-e81c49d21532
Penn, Alexandra S
d848e4c6-c29f-4594-8815-1971e8a27b19
Powers, Simon T
474bffcd-e5ab-4be0-89fe-b0d0b2bdf2c1
Conibear, Tim
2e84977d-07ce-4252-a24b-cd97b1c9c881
Kraaijeveld, Alex
81005421-2704-4ec3-ac2f-ad30b549218a
Watson, Richard
ce199dfc-d5d4-4edf-bd7b-f9e224c96c75
Bigg, Zoe
2ce98fb6-65c7-4473-ab46-b17d998da18a
Webb, Jeremy
7d2a2c36-ebb8-477e-b08e-e81c49d21532

Penn, Alexandra S, Powers, Simon T, Conibear, Tim, Kraaijeveld, Alex, Watson, Richard, Bigg, Zoe and Webb, Jeremy (2008) Co-operation and Group structure in Bacterial Biofilms At Society for General Microbiology, Autumn meeting..

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)

Abstract

A key problem in understanding major transitions in evolution is the evolution of cooperation: how are mutants that exploit the benefits of cooperation without paying the costs (cheats) suppressed within populations? Biofilms, which display properties of both single cell and multicellular organisms, provide an excellent model system to address this question. Biofilms exhibit grouped population structure – they exist primarily as dense aggregates of cells called microcolonies. We aim to test the hypothesis that cell-grouping displayed by microcolonies in bacterial biofilms provides a mechanism to suppress cheats within the biofilm population. We are using the co-operative trait of siderophore production (an extracellular iron-chelating molecule) within Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms to investigate cooperation in biofilms. Under iron-limited conditions, production of siderophores enhanced wild type growth, but microcolonies containing GFP-tagged, pyoverdin-mutant ‘cheats’ developed poorly. In iron-rich conditions, cheats are favoured as siderophore production is costly. With mixed strain biofilms, cheats are dependant on the wild type for successful growth. We suggest that, if cheats reduce colony size, thus self-limiting their global population, microcolony-based group structures may be an important (potentially evolved) mechanism to suppress cheats in bacterial populations.

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More information

Published date: 2008
Venue - Dates: Society for General Microbiology, Autumn meeting., 2008-01-01
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 267170
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/267170
PURE UUID: 5b9aa10b-7d06-4b9b-824d-4833964f24b8

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Date deposited: 04 Mar 2009 18:58
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 07:07

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Contributors

Author: Alexandra S Penn
Author: Simon T Powers
Author: Tim Conibear
Author: Alex Kraaijeveld
Author: Richard Watson
Author: Zoe Bigg
Author: Jeremy Webb

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