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Comparative transcriptome analysis of Desulfovibrio vulgaris grown in planktonic culture and mature biofilm on a steel surface

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Biofilm build-up of sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) on metal surfaces may lead to severe corrosion of iron. To understand the processes at molecular level, in this study, a whole-genome oligonucleotide microarray was used to examine differential expression patterns between planktonic populations and mature biofilm of Desulfovibrio vulgaris on a steel surface. Statistical analysis revealed that 472 genes were differentially expressed (1.5-fold or more with a q value less than 0.025) by comparing the biofilm cells with the planktonic cells. Among the differentially expressed genes were several that corresponded to genes identified in many aerobic bacterial biofilms (i.e., Pseudomonas species and Escherichia coli) such as genes encoding flagellin, a flagellar motor switch protein, chemotaxis proteins involved in cell motility, as well as genes involved in exopolysaccharide biosynthesis. In addition, the biofilm-bound cells of D. vulgaris exhibited decreased transcription of genes involved in protein synthesis, energy metabolism and sulfate reduction, as well as genes involved in general stress responses. These findings were all consistent with early suggestion that the average physiology of the biofilm cells were similar to cells reduced in growth. Most notably, up-regulation of large number of outer membrane proteins was observed in the D. vulgaris biofilm. Although their function is still unknown, the higher expression of these genes in the biofilm could implicate important roles in the formation and maintenance of multi-cellular consortium on a steel surface. The study provided insights into the metabolic networks associated with the formation and maintenance of a D. vulgaris biofilm on a steel surface.

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The research described in this paper was conducted under the LDRD Program at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a multi-program national laboratory operated by Battelle for the US Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC06-76RLO1830. We thank the Microbial Cell Dynamics Laboratory (MCDL) at PNNL for the use of the controlled cultivation technologies applied in this research.

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Correspondence to Weiwen Zhang or Johannes C. M. Scholten.

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Supplementary Table 1

Responsive genes involved in central intermediary, DNA and energy metabolisms, and protein synthesis (XLS 28 kb)

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Zhang, W., Culley, D.E., Nie, L. et al. Comparative transcriptome analysis of Desulfovibrio vulgaris grown in planktonic culture and mature biofilm on a steel surface. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 76, 447–457 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-007-1014-9

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  • Transcriptome analysis
  • Biofilm
  • Corrosion
  • Desulfovibrio vulgaris