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Swarming and Swimming Changes Concomitant with Phase Variation in Xenorhabdus nematophilus



Swarming and Swimming Changes Concomitant with Phase Variation in Xenorhabdus nematophilus



Applied and Environmental Microbiology 61(4): 1408-1413



Xenorhabdus spp., entomopathogenic bacteria symbiotically associated with nematodes of the family Steinernematidae, occur spontaneously in two phases. Phase I, the variant naturally isolated from the infective-stage nematode, provides better conditions than the phase II variant for nematode reproduction. This study has shown that Xenorhabdus phase I variants displayed a swarming motility when they were grown on a suitable solid medium (0.6 to 1.2% agar). Whereas most of the phase I variants from different Xenorhabdus spp. were able to undergo cycle of rapid and coordinately population migration over the surface, phase II variants were unable to swarm and even to swim in semisolid agar, particularly in X. nematophilus. Optical and electron microscopic observations showed nonmotile cells with phase II variants of X. nematophilus F1 which lost their flagella. Flagellar filaments from strain F1 phase I variants were purified, and the molecular mass of the flagellar structural subunit was estimated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to be 36.5 kDa. Flagellin from cellular extracts or culture medium of phase II was undetectable with antiserum against the denatured flagellin by immunoblotting analysis. This suggests that the lack of flagella in phase II cells is due to a defect during flagellin synthesis. The importance of such a difference of motility between both phases is discussed in regard to adaptation of these bacteria to the insect prey and the nematode host.

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Accession: 002973906

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PMID: 16534993


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