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Exposure of conjugative plasmid carrying Escherichia coli biofilms to male-specific bacteriophages

By Thithiwat May, Kenji Tsuruta and Satoshi Okabe


Escherichia coli carrying a natural conjugative F-plasmid generates F-pili mating pairs, which is important for early biofilm formation. In this study, we investigated the effect of male-specific filamentous single stranded DNA bacteriophage (f1) and RNA bacteriophage (MS2) on the formation of biofilms by E. coli carrying a natural conjugative F-plasmid. We showed that the early biofilm formation was completely inhibited by addition of the f1 phage, but not the MS2 phage. This suggests that the tip of F-pili is the specific attachment site for mating pairs formation and the side of F-pili has a non-obligatory role during biofilm formation. The inhibitory effect of the f1 phage was dependent on the time of addition during the biofilm formation. No inhibitory effect was observed when the f1 phages were added to the mature biofilms. This resistant mechanism of the mature biofilms could be attributed to the biofilm-specific phenotypes representing that the F-pili mating pairs were already formed and then the curli production commenced during the biofilm maturation. The pre-formed mating pairs seemed to resist the f1 phages. Altogether, our results indicate a close relationship between the presence of conjugative plasmid and male-specific bacteriophages within sessile biofilm communities, as well as the possibility of using the male-specific bacteriophages to control biofilm formation

Topics: Short Communication
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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