Marine pathogenic bacteria are able to form biofilms on many surfaces, such as mollusc shells, and they can wait for the appropriate opportunity to induce their virulence. Vibrio tapetis
can develop such biofilms on the inner surface of shells of the Ruditapes philippinarum
clam, leading to the formation of a brown conchiolin deposit in the form of a ring, hence the name of the disease: Brown Ring Disease. The virulence of V. tapetis
is presumed to be related to its capacity to form biofilms, but the link has never been clearly established at the physiological or genetic level. In the present study, we used RNA-seq analysis to identify biofilm- and virulence-related genes displaying altered expression in biofilms compared to the planktonic condition. A flow cell system was employed to grow biofilms to obtain both structural and transcriptomic views of the biofilms. We found that 3615 genes were differentially expressed, confirming that biofilm and planktonic lifestyles are very different. As expected, the differentially expressed genes included those involved in biofilm formation, such as motility- and polysaccharide synthesis-related genes. The data show that quorum sensing is probably mediated by the AI-2/LuxO system in V. tapetis
biofilms. The expression of genes encoding the Type VI Secretion System and associated exported proteins are strongly induced, suggesting that V. tapetis
activates this virulence factor when living in biofilm.
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