Pseudomonas aeruginosa is capable of natural transformation in biofilms

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Journal Article
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Abstract Natural transformation is a mechanism that enables competent bacteria to acquire naked, exogenous DNA from the environment. It is a key process that facilitates the dissemination of antibiotic resistance and virulence determinants throughout bacterial populations. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic Gram-negative pathogen that produces large quantities of extracellular DNA (eDNA) that is required for biofilm formation. P. aeruginosa has a remarkable level of genome plasticity and diversity that suggests a high degree of horizontal gene transfer and recombination but is thought to be incapable of natural transformation. Here we show that P. aeruginosa possesses homologs of all proteins known to be involved in natural transformation in other bacterial species. We found that P. aeruginosa in biofilms is competent for natural transformation of both genomic and plasmid DNA. Furthermore, we demonstrate that type IV pili (T4P) facilitate but are not absolutely essential for natural transformation in P. aeruginosa .
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