Xenorhabdus bovienii strain jolietti uses a type 6 secretion system to kill closely-related Xenorhabdus strains

Rebecca M Kochanowsky, Christine Bradshaw, Isabel Forlastro, S Patricia Stock
FEMS Microbiology Ecology 2020 June 19
Xenorhabdus bovienii strain jolietti (XBJ) is a Gram-negative bacterium that interacts with several organisms as a part of its life cycle. It is a beneficial symbiont of nematodes, a potent pathogen of a wide range of soil-dwelling insects, and also has the ability to kill soil- and insect-associated microbes. Entomopathogenic Steinernema nematodes vector XBJ into insects, releasing the bacteria into the insect body cavity. There, XBJ produce a variety of insecticidal toxins and antimicrobials. XBJ's genome also encodes two separate Type Six Secretion Systems (T6SSs), structures that allow bacteria to inject specific proteins directly into other cells, but their roles in the XBJ life cycle are mostly unknown. To probe the function of these T6SSs, we generated mutant strains lacking the key structural protein Hcp from each T6SS, and assessed phenotypes related to different parts of XBJ's life cycle. Here we demonstrate that one of the T6SSs is more highly expressed in in vitro growth conditions and has antibacterial activity against other Xenorhabdus strains, and that the two T6SSs have a redundant role in biofilm formation.

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