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A Movable Surface: Formation of Yersinia sp. Biofilms on Motile Caenorhabditis elegans

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Microbial Communities And Interactions


Bubonic plague is transmitted by fleas whose feeding is blocked by a mass of Yersinia pestis in the digestive tract. Y. pestis and the closely related Y. pseudotuberculosis also block the feeding of Caenorhabditis elegans by forming a biofilm on the nematode head. C. elegans mutants with severe motility defects acquire almost no biofilm, indicating that normal animals accumulate the biofilm matrix as they move through a Yersinia lawn. Using the lectin wheat germ agglutinin as a probe, we show that the matrix on C. elegans contains carbohydrate produced by Yersinia. The carbohydrate is present in bacterial lawns prior to addition of nematodes, indicating that biofilm formation does not involve signaling between the two organisms. Furthermore, biofilm accumulation depends on continuous C. elegans exposure to a lawn of Yersinia bacteria.

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