Properties of the phenotypic variants of Pseudomonas aurantiaca and P. fluorescens

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Different capacity for phenotypic variation of Pseudomonas aurantiaca and P. fluorescens in populations of cyst-like resting cells (CRC) during their germination on solid media, was shown to be a characteristic trait of biodiversity for the dormant forms of these bacteria. This biodiversity manifests itself as qualitative and quantitative differences in the spectra and emergence frequency of phenotype variants, obtained by plating of CRC, and depends on the conditions of CRC formation and storage time. In P. aurantiaca, the variation was associated with transition of the wild-type S-colonial phenotype into the R-type or the more pigmented P-type. These transitions were most pronounced for the CRC obtained under nitrogen depletion (a twofold N limitation), as well as under the influence of a chemical analogue of microbial anabiosis autoinducers, C12-AHB. In the latter case, the frequency of S→R and S→P transitions (up to 70% and 80%, respectively) depended on the C12-AHB concentration (1.0 × 10−4 M and 2.5 × 10−4 M) and on the storage time of CRC suspensions (from 3 days to 1.3 months). In the CRC populations grown in nitrogen-deficient media, R-type appeared with a frequency of up to 45% after at least four months of storage. In the case of P. fluorescens, S→R transitions depended not only on the storage time of CRC and C12-AHB concentrations, but also on the composition of the solid medium used for plating. Differences were shown between the R-, P-, and S-variants of P. aurantiaca in such morphological, physiological, and biochemical characteristics as the growth rate (μmax) in a poor medium, biomass yield (Ymax), resistance to streptomycin and tetracycline (LD50), and the productivity in extracellular proteases. The R-and S-variants of P. fluorescens differed in their growth characteristics, resistance to high salinity and oxidative stress, as well as in their sensitivity to exogenous introduction of chemical analogues of microbial autoregulators (C12-AHB and C7-AHB). Hence, both the formation of dormant forms of the various morphological types [1] and intrapopulation phenotypic variability observed during their germination are important for the survival strategy of pseudomonads under unfavorable environmental conditions.

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