University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series > Contributed Talk 7: Social evolution of toxic metal bioremediation in P.aeruginosa

Contributed Talk 7: Social evolution of toxic metal bioremediation in P.aeruginosa

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Understanding Microbial Communities; Function, Structure and Dynamics

Bacteria are often iron-limited, hence produce extracellular iron-scavenging siderophores. A crucial feature of siderophore production is that it can be an altruistic behaviour (individually costly but benefitting neighbouring cells), thus siderophore producers can be invaded by non-producing social cheats. Recent studies have shown that siderophores can also bind other heavy metals (such as Cu and Zn), but in this case siderophore chelation actually reduces metal uptake by bacteria. These complexes reduce heavy metal toxicity, hence siderophore production may contribute to toxic metal bioremediation. Here, we show that siderophore production in the context of bioremediation is also an altruistic trait and can be exploited by cheating phenotypes in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Specifically, we show that in toxic copper concentrations: 1) siderophore non-producers evolve de novo and reach high frequencies; and 2) that producing stra in s are fitter than isogenic non-producing strains in monoculture, and vice versa in co-culture. Moreover, we show that the evolutionary effect copper has on reducing siderophore production is greater than the reduction observed under iron-limited conditions. We discuss the relevance of these results to the evolution of siderophore production in natural communities and heavy metal bioremediation.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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