Nitric oxide and iron signaling cues have opposing effects on biofilm development in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2019, 85 (3)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2019 American Society for Microbiology. While both iron and nitric oxide (NO) are redox-active environmental signals shown to regulate biofilm development, their interaction and roles in regulating biofilms have not been fully elucidated. In this study, exposure of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms to exogenous NO inhibited the expression of iron acquisition-related genes and the production of the siderophore pyoverdine. Furthermore, supplementation of the culture medium with high levels of iron (100μM) counteracted NO-induced biofilm dispersal by promoting the rapid attachment of planktonic cells. In the presence of iron, biofilms were found to disperse transiently to NO, while the freshly dispersed cells reattached rapidly within 15 min. This effect was not due to the scavenging of NO by free iron but involved a cellular response induced by iron that led to the elevated production of the exopolysaccharide Psl. Interestingly, most Psl remained on the substratum after treatment with NO, suggesting that dispersal involved changes in the interactions between Psl and P. aeruginosa cells. Taken together, our results suggest that iron and NO regulate biofilm development via different pathways, both of which include the regulation of Psl-mediated attachment. Moreover, the addition of an iron chelator worked synergistically with NO in the dispersal of biofilms.
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