Fatty Acid Synthesis Knockdown Promotes Biofilm Wrinkling and Inhibits Sporulation in Bacillus subtilis.
Many bacterial species typically live in complex three-dimensional biofilms, yet much remains unknown about differences in essential processes between nonbiofilm and biofilm lifestyles. Here, we created a CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) library of knockdown strains covering all known essential genes in the biofilm-forming Bacillus subtilis strain NCIB 3610 and investigated growth, biofilm colony wrinkling, and sporulation phenotypes of the knockdown library. First, we showed that gene essentiality is largely conserved between liquid and surface growth and between two media. Second, we quantified biofilm colony wrinkling using a custom image analysis algorithm and found that fatty acid synthesis and DNA gyrase knockdown strains exhibited increased wrinkling independent of biofilm matrix gene expression. Third, we designed a high-throughput screen to quantify sporulation efficiency after essential gene knockdown; we found that partial knockdowns of essential genes remained competent for sporulation in a sporulation-inducing medium, but knockdown of essential genes involved in fatty acid synthesis exhibited reduced sporulation efficiency in LB, a medium with generally lower levels of sporulation. We conclude that a subset of essential genes are particularly important for biofilm structure and sporulation/germination and suggest a previously unappreciated and multifaceted role for fatty acid synthesis in bacterial lifestyles and developmental processes. IMPORTANCE For many bacteria, life typically involves growth in dense, three-dimensional communities called biofilms that contain cells with differentiated roles held together by extracellular matrix. To examine how essential gene function varies between vegetative growth and the developmental states of biofilm formation and sporulation, we created and screened a comprehensive library of strains using CRISPRi to knockdown expression of each essential gene in the biofilm-capable Bacillus subtilis strain 3610. High-throughput assays and computational algorithms identified a subset of essential genes involved in biofilm wrinkling and sporulation and indicated that fatty acid synthesis plays important and multifaceted roles in bacterial development.
View details for DOI 10.1128/mbio.01388-22
View details for PubMedID 36069446