Plant host and sugar alcohol induced exopolysaccharide biosynthesis in the Burkholderia cepacia complex.
Brown, Alan R
Society for General Microbiology
The species that presently constitute the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) have multiple roles; they include soil and water saprophytes, bioremediators, and plant, animal and human pathogens. Since the first description of pathogenicity in the Bcc was based on sour skin rot of onion bulbs, this study returned to this plant host to investigate the onion-associated phenotype of the Bcc. Many Bcc isolates, which were previously considered to be non-mucoid, produced copious amounts of exopolysaccharide (EPS) when onion tissue was provided as the sole nutrient. EPS production was not species-specific, was observed in isolates from both clinical and environmental sources, and did not correlate with the ability to cause maceration of onion tissue. Chemical analysis suggested that the onion components responsible for EPS induction were primarily the carbohydrates sucrose, fructose and fructans. Additional sugars were investigated, and all alcohol sugars tested were able to induce EPS production, in particular mannitol and glucitol. To investigate the molecular basis for EPS biosynthesis, we focused on the highly conserved bce gene cluster thought to be involved in cepacian biosynthesis. We demonstrated induction of the bce gene cluster by mannitol, and found a clear correlation between the inability of representatives of the Burkholderia cenocepacia ET12 lineage to produce EPS and the presence of an 11 bp deletion within the bceB gene, which encodes a glycosyltransferase. Insertional inactivation of bceB in Burkholderia ambifaria AMMD results in loss of EPS production on sugar alcohol media. These novel and surprising insights into EPS biosynthesis highlight the metabolic potential of the Bcc and show that a potential virulence factor may not be detected by routine laboratory culture. Our results also highlight a potential hazard in the use of inhaled mannitol as an osmolyte to improve mucociliary clearance in individuals with cystic fibrosis.
© Society for General Microbiology, 2008. This is an author manuscript that has been accepted for publication in Microbiology, copyright Society for General Microbiology, but has not been copy-edited, formatted or proofed. Cite this article as appearing in Microbiology. This version of the manuscript may not be duplicated or reproduced, other than for personal use or within the rule of 'Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials' (section 17, Title 17, US Code), without permission from the copyright owner, Society for General Microbiology. The Society for General Microbiology disclaims any responsibility or liability for errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or in any version derived from it by any other parties. The final copy-edited, published article, which is the version of record, can be found at http://mic.sgmjournals.org, and is freely available without a subscription 12 months after publication.
Vol. 154, Issue Pt 8, pp. 2513 - 2521
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