Article: article from journal or magazin.
Life history analysis of integrative and conjugative element activation in growing microcolonies of Pseudomonas.
Journal of Bacteriology
Publication types: Journal Article ; Research Support
Integrative and conjugative elements (ICE) are in some ways parasitic mobile DNA that propagate vertically through replication with the bacterial host chromosome but at low frequencies can excise and invade new recipient cells through conjugation and reintegration (horizontal propagation). The factors that contribute to successful horizontal propagation are not very well understood. Here, we study the influence of host cell life history on the initiation of transfer of a model ICE named ICEclc in bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas. We use time-lapse microscopy of growing and stationary-phase microcolonies of ICEclc bearing cells in combination with physiological staining and gene reporter analysis in stationary-phase suspended cells. We provide evidence that cell age and cell lineage are unlikely to play a role in the decision to initiate the ICEclc transfer program. In contrast, cells activating ICEclc show more often increased levels of reactive oxygen species and membrane damage than nonactivating cells, suggesting that some form of biochemical damage may make cells more prone to ICEclc induction. Finally, we find that ICEclc active cells appear spatially at random in a microcolony, which may have been a selective advantage for maximizing ICEclc horizontal transmission to new recipient species.
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