The phototropic bacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 is able to adapt its morphology in order to survive in a wide range of harsh environments. Under conditions of high salinity, planktonic cells formed cell aggregates in culture. Further observations using crystal violet staining, confocal laser scanning microscopy, and field emission-scanning electron microscopy confirmed that these aggregates were Synechocystis biofilms. Polyamines have been implicated in playing a role in biofilm formation, and during salt stress the content of spermidine, the major polyamine in Synechocystis, was reduced. Two putative arginine decarboxylases, Adc1 and Adc2, in Synechocystis were heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. Adc2 had high arginine decarboxylase activity, whereas Adc1 was much less active. Disruption of the adc genes in Synechocystis resulted in decreased spermidine content and formation of biofilms even under nonstress conditions. Based on the characterization of the adc mutants, Adc2 was the major arginine decarboxylase whose activity led to inhibition of biofilm formation, and Adc1 contributed only minimally to the process of polyamine synthesis. Taken together, in Synechocystis the shift from planktonic lifestyle to biofilm formation was correlated with a decrease in intracellular polyamine content, which is the inverse relationship of what was previously reported in heterotroph bacteria.
- Arginine decarboxylase
- Stress response