Phenotypic Heterogeneity, a Phenomenon That May Explain Why Quorum Sensing Does Not Always Result in Truly Homogenous Cell Behavior.

TitlePhenotypic Heterogeneity, a Phenomenon That May Explain Why Quorum Sensing Does Not Always Result in Truly Homogenous Cell Behavior.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsGrote, J, Krysciak, D, Streit, WR
JournalAppl Environ Microbiol
Volume81
Issue16
Pagination5280-9
Date Published2015 Aug 15
ISSN1098-5336
Abstract

Phenotypic heterogeneity describes the occurrence of "nonconformist" cells within an isogenic population. The nonconformists show an expression profile partially different from that of the remainder of the population. Phenotypic heterogeneity affects many aspects of the different bacterial lifestyles, and it is assumed that it increases bacterial fitness and the chances for survival of the whole population or smaller subpopulations in unfavorable environments. Well-known examples for phenotypic heterogeneity have been associated with antibiotic resistance and frequently occurring persister cells. Other examples include heterogeneous behavior within biofilms, DNA uptake and bacterial competence, motility (i.e., the synthesis of additional flagella), onset of spore formation, lysis of phages within a small subpopulation, and others. Interestingly, phenotypic heterogeneity was recently also observed with respect to quorum-sensing (QS)-dependent processes, and the expression of autoinducer (AI) synthase genes and other QS-dependent genes was found to be highly heterogeneous at a single-cell level. This phenomenon was observed in several Gram-negative bacteria affiliated with the genera Vibrio, Dinoroseobacter, Pseudomonas, Sinorhizobium, and Mesorhizobium. A similar observation was made for the Gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Since AI molecules have historically been thought to be the keys to homogeneous behavior within isogenic populations, the observation of heterogeneous expression is quite intriguing and adds a new level of complexity to the QS-dependent regulatory networks. All together, the many examples of phenotypic heterogeneity imply that we may have to partially revise the concept of homogeneous and coordinated gene expression in isogenic bacterial populations.

DOI10.1128/AEM.00900-15
Alternate JournalAppl. Environ. Microbiol.