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Cell & Molecular Biology


Defining phenotypic and associated genotypic variation among Bdellovibrio may further our understanding of how this genus attacks and kills different Gram-negative bacteria. We isolated Bdellovibrio sp. NC01 from soil. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences and average amino acid identity showed that NC01 belongs to a different species than the type species bacteriovorus. By clustering amino acid sequences from completely sequenced Bdellovibrio and comparing the resulting orthologue groups to a previously published analysis, we defined a ‘core genome’ of 778 protein-coding genes and identified four protein-coding genes that appeared to be missing only in NC01. To determine how horizontal gene transfer (HGT) may have impacted NC01 genome evolution, we performed genome-wide comparisons of Bdellovibrio nucleotide sequences, which indicated that eight NC01 genomic regions were likely acquired by HGT. To investigate how genome variation may impact predation, we compared protein-coding gene content between NC01 and the B. bacteriovorus type strain HD100, focusing on genes implicated as important in successful killing of prey. Of these, NC01 is missing ten genes that may play roles in lytic activity during predation. Compared to HD100, NC01 kills fewer tested prey strains and kills Escherichia coli ML35 less efficiently. NC01 causes a smaller log reduction in ML35, after which the prey population recovers and the NC01 population decreases. In addition, NC01 forms turbid plaques on lawns of E. coli ML35, in contrast to clear plaques formed by HD100. Linking phenotypic variation in interactions between Bdellovibrio and Gram-negative bacteria with underlying Bdellovibrio genome variation is valuable for understanding the ecological significance of predatory bacteria and evaluating their effectiveness in clinical applications.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.