Protozoan-induced regulation of cyclic lipopeptide biosynthesis is an effective predation defense mechanism for Pseudomonas fluorescens

Mark Mazzola, Irene De Bruijn, Michael F Cohen, Jos M Raaijmakers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental bacteria are exposed to a myriad of biotic interactions that influence their function and survival. The grazing activity of protozoan predators significantly impacts the dynamics, diversification, and evolution of bacterial communities in soil ecosystems. To evade protozoan predation, bacteria employ various defense strategies. Soil-dwelling Pseudomonas fluorescens strains SS101 and SBW25 produce the cyclic lipopeptide surfactants (CLPs) massetolide and viscosin, respectively, in a quorum-sensing-independent manner. In this study, CLP production was shown to protect these bacteria from protozoan predation as, compared to CLP-deficient mutants, strains SS101 and SBW25 exhibited resistance to grazing by Naegleria americana in vitro and superior persistence in soil in the presence of this bacterial predator. In the wheat rhizosphere, CLP-producing strains had a direct deleterious impact on the survival of N. americana. In vitro assays further showed that N. americana was three times more sensitive to viscosin than to massetolide and that exposure of strain SS101 or SBW25 to this protozoan resulted in upregulation of CLP biosynthesis genes. Enhanced expression of the massABC and viscABC genes did not require physical contact between the two organisms as gene expression levels were up to threefold higher in bacterial cells harvested 1 cm from feeding protozoans than in cells collected 4 cm from feeding protozoans. These findings document a new natural function of CLPs and highlight that bacterium-protozoan interactions can result in activation of an antipredator response in prey populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6804-6811
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number21
Early online date28 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • animals
  • antiprotozoal agents
  • colony count, microbial
  • gene deletion
  • gene expression profiling
  • gene expression regulation, bacterial
  • lipopeptides
  • naegleria
  • peptides, cyclic
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • soil microbiology
  • up-regulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Protozoan-induced regulation of cyclic lipopeptide biosynthesis is an effective predation defense mechanism for Pseudomonas fluorescens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this