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Applied and environmental microbiology

Nonribosomal peptide synthase gene clusters for lipopeptide biosynthesis in Bacillus subtilis 916 and their phenotypic functions.


PMID 25362061

Abstract

Bacillus cyclic lipopeptides (LPs) have been well studied for their phytopathogen-antagonistic activities. Recently, research has shown that these LPs also contribute to the phenotypic features of Bacillus strains, such as hemolytic activity, swarming motility, biofilm formation, and colony morphology. Bacillus subtilis 916 not only coproduces the three families of well-known LPs, i.e., surfactins, bacillomycin Ls (iturin family), and fengycins, but also produces a new family of LP called locillomycins. The genome of B. subtilis 916 contains four nonribosomal peptide synthase (NRPS) gene clusters, srf, bmy, fen, and loc, which are responsible for the biosynthesis of surfactins, bacillomycin Ls, fengycins, and locillomycins, respectively. By studying B. subtilis 916 mutants lacking production of one, two, or three LPs, we attempted to unveil the connections between LPs and phenotypic features. We demonstrated that bacillomycin Ls and fengycins contribute mainly to antifungal activity. Although surfactins have weak antifungal activity in vitro, the strain mutated in srfAA had significantly decreased antifungal activity. This may be due to the impaired productions of fengycins and bacillomycin Ls. We also found that the disruption of any LP gene cluster other than fen resulted in a change in colony morphology. While surfactins and bacillomycin Ls play very important roles in hemolytic activity, swarming motility, and biofilm formation, the fengycins and locillomycins had little influence on these phenotypic features. In conclusion, B. subtilis 916 coproduces four families of LPs which contribute to the phenotypic features of B. subtilis 916 in an intricate way.