Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2007-01


Production of antibacterial compounds and biofilm formation by Roseobacter species are influenced by culture conditions.




Bruhn, JB; Gram, L; Belas, R


Applied and Environmental Microbiology 73(2):442-450




Bacterial communities associated with marine algae are often dominated by members of the Roseobacter clade, and in the present study, we describe Roseobacter phenotypes that may provide this group of bacteria with selective advantages when colonizing this niche. Nine of 14 members of the Roseobacter clade, of which half were isolated from cultures of the dinoflagellate Pfiesteria piscicida, produced antibacterial compounds. Many non-Roseobacter marine bacteria were inhibited by sterile filtered supernatants of Silicibacter sp. TM1040 and Phaeobacter (formerly Roseobacter) strain 27-4, which had the highest production of antibacterial compound. In contrast, Roseobacter strains were susceptible only when exposed to concentrated compound. The production of antibacterial compound was influenced by the growth conditions, as production was most pronounced when bacteria were grown in liquid medium under static conditions. Under these conditions, Silicibacter sp. TM1040 cells attached to one another, forming rosettes, as has previously been reported for Phaeobacter 27-4. A spontaneous Phaeobacter 27-4 mutant unable to form rosettes was also defective in biofilm formation and the production of antibacterial compound, indicating a possible link between these phenotypes. Rosette formation was observed in 8 of 14 Roseobacter clade strains examined and was very pronounced under static growth in 5 of these strains. Attachment to surfaces and biofilm formation at the air-liquid interface by these five strains was greatly facilitated by growth conditions that favored rosette formation, and rosette-forming strains were 13 to 30 times more efficient in attaching to glass compared to strains under conditions where rosette formation was not pronounced. We hypothesize that the ability to produce antibacterial compounds that principally inhibit non-Roseobacter species, combined with an enhancement in biofilm formation, may give members of the Roseobacter clade a selective advantage and help to explain the dominance of members of this clade in association with marine algal microbiota.

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