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Molecular basis and ecological relevance of Caulobacter cell filamentation in fresh water habitats
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute. Stockholm University, Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute. Stockholm University, Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute. Stockholm University, Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab).
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

All living cells are characterized by a certain cell shape and size. Many bacteria can change these properties depending on the growth conditions. The underlying mechanisms and the ecological relevance of changing cell shape and size remains unclear in most cases. One bacterium that undergoes extensive shape-shifting in response to changing growth conditions is the fresh water bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. When incubated for an extended time in stationary phase, a subpopulation of C. crescentus forms viable filamentous cells with a helical shape. Here, we demonstrate that this stationary phase-induced filamentation results from downregulation of most critical cell cycle regulators and consequently a block of DNA replication and cell division while cell growth and metabolism continue. Our data indicate that this response is triggered by a combination of three stresses caused by prolonged growth in complex medium, namely the depletion of phosphate, alkaline pH and an excess of nitrogen. We find that these conditions are experienced in the summer months during algae blooms near the surface in fresh water lakes, a natural habitat of C. crescentus, suggesting that filamentous growth is a common response of Caulobacter to its natural environment. Finally, our data suggest that cell filamentation under these conditions may confer an adaptive advantage. We demonstrate that when grown in a biofilm, the filamentous cells can reach beyond the surface of the biofilm and potentially access nutrients or release progeny. Altogether our work highlights the ability of bacteria to alter their morphology and suggests how this behavior enables adaptation to changing environments.

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Microbiology
Research subject
Molecular Bioscience
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-158107OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-158107DiVA, id: diva2:1233180
Available from: 2018-07-16 Created: 2018-07-16 Last updated: 2018-07-27Bibliographically approved
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Heinrich, KristinaLeslie, David J.Morlock, MichaelaJonas, Kristina
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Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren InstituteScience for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab)
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