Research – Bacteriocin Production by Escherichia coli during Biofilm Development

MDPI

Escherichia coli is a highly versatile bacterium ranging from commensal to intestinal pathogen, and is an important foodborne pathogen. E. coli species are able to prosper in multispecies biofilms and secrete bacteriocins that are only toxic to species/strains closely related to the producer strain. In this study, 20 distinct E. coli strains were characterized for several properties that confer competitive advantages against closer microorganisms by assessing the biofilm-forming capacity, the production of antimicrobial molecules, and the production of siderophores. Furthermore, primer sets for E. coli bacteriocins–colicins were designed and genes were amplified, allowing us to observe that colicins were widely distributed among the pathogenic E. coli strains. Their production in the planktonic phase or single-species biofilms was uncommon. Only two E. coli strains out of nine biofilm-forming were able to inhibit the growth of other E. coli strains. There is evidence of larger amounts of colicin being produced in the late stages of E. coli biofilm growth. The decrease in bacterial biomass after 12 h of incubation indicates active type I colicin production, whose release normally requires E. coli cell lysis. Almost all E. coli strains were siderophore-producing, which may be related to the resistance to colicin as these two molecules may use the same transporter system. Moreover, E. coli CECT 504 was able to coexist with Salmonella enterica in dual-species biofilms, but Shigella dysenteriae was selectively excluded, correlating with high expression levels of colicin (E, B, and M) genes observed by real-time PCR. View Full-Text

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