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Identification of the Genes Involved in Riemerella anatipestifer Biofilm Formation by Random Transposon Mutagenesis

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039805
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics Of Disease
  • Microbiology
  • Bacterial Pathogens
  • Gram Negative
  • Bacteriology
  • Bacterial Biofilms
  • Microbial Pathogens
  • Zoology
  • Ornithology
  • Veterinary Science
  • Veterinary Diseases
  • Veterinary Bacteriology
  • Veterinary Microbiology
  • Biology
  • Economics
  • Medicine


Riemerella anatipestifer causes epizootics of infectious disease in poultry that result in serious economic losses to the duck industry. Our previous studies have shown that some strains of R. anatipestifer can form a biofilm, and this may explain the intriguing persistence of R. anatipestifer on duck farms post infection. In this study we used strain CH3, a strong producer of biofilm, to construct a library of random Tn4351 transposon mutants in order to investigate the genetic basis of biofilm formation by R. anatipestifer on abiotic surfaces. A total of 2,520 mutants were obtained and 39 of them showed a reduction in biofilm formation of 47%–98% using crystal violet staining. Genetic characterization of the mutants led to the identification of 33 genes. Of these, 29 genes are associated with information storage and processing, as well as basic cellular processes and metabolism; the function of the other four genes is currently unknown. In addition, a mutant strain BF19, in which biofilm formation was reduced by 98% following insertion of the Tn4351 transposon at the dihydrodipicolinate synthase (dhdps) gene, was complemented with a shuttle plasmid pCP-dhdps. The complemented mutant strain was restored to give 92.6% of the biofilm formation of the wild-type strain CH3, which indicates that the dhdp gene is associated with biofilm formation. It is inferred that such complementation applies also to other mutant strains. Furthermore, some biological characteristics of biofilm-defective mutants were investigated, indicating that the genes deleted in the mutant strains function in the biofilm formation of R. anatipestifer. Deletion of either gene will stall the biofilm formation at a specific stage thus preventing further biofilm development. In addition, the tested biofilm-defective mutants had different adherence capacity to Vero cells. This study will help us to understand the molecular mechanisms of biofilm development by R. anatipestifer and to study the pathogenesis of R. anatipestifer further.

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