, Volume 162, Issue 5, pp 344-351

Physiological regulation of competence induction for natural transformation in Acinetobacter calcoaceticus

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Acinetobacter calcoaceticus induced competence for natural transformation maximally after dilution of a stationary culture into fresh medium. Competence was gradually lost during prolonged exponential growth and after entrance into the stationary state. Growth cessation and nutrient upshift were involved in the induction of competence. The level of competence of a chemostat culture of A. calcoaceticus was dependent on the nature of the growth limitation. Under potassium limitation a transformation frequency of ±1x10-4 was obtained. This frequency was independent of the specific growth rate. In phosphate-, nitrogen-, and carbon-limited chemostat cultures, in contrast, the transformation frequency depended on the specific growth rate; the transformation frequency equalled±10-4 at dilution rates close to µmax of 0.6h-1 and decreased to ±10-7 at a dilution rate of 0.1 h-1. We conclude that (1) DNA uptake for natural transformation in A. calcoaceticus does not serve a nutrient function and (2) competence induction is regulated via a promoter(s) that resembles the fis promoter from Escherichia coli.