Functional Analysis of Phenazine Biosynthesis Genes In Burkholderia spp.

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Biological Sciences


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Burkholderia encompasses a group of ubiquitous Gram-negative bacteria that includes numerous saprophytes as well as species that cause infections in animals, immunocompromised patients, and plants. Some species of Burkholderia produce colored, redox-active secondary metabolites called phenazines. Phenazines contribute to competitiveness, biofilm formation, and virulence in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but knowledge of their diversity, biosynthesis, and biological functions in Burkholderia is lacking. In this study, we screened publicly accessible genome sequence databases and identified phenazine biosynthesis genes in multiple strains of the Burkholderia cepacia complex, some isolates of the B. pseudomallei clade, and the plant pathogen B. glumae. We then focused on B. lata ATCC 17760 to reveal the organization and function of genes involved in the production of dimethyl 4,9-dihydroxy-1,6-phenazinedicarboxylate. Using a combination of isogenic mutants and plasmids carrying different segments of the phz locus, we characterized three novel genes involved in the modification of the phenazine tricycle. Our functional studies revealed a connection between the presence and amount of phenazines and the dynamics of biofilm growth in flow cell and static experimental systems but at the same time failed to link the production of phenazines with the capacity of Burkholderia to kill fruit flies and rot onions.

Publication Title

Applied and Environmental Microbiology





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