In nature, bacteria form biofilms by producing exopolymeric matrix that encases its entire community. While it is widely known that biofilm matrix can prevent bacterivore predation and contain virulence factors for killing predators, it is unclear if they can alter predator motility. Here, we report a novel “quagmire” phenotype, where Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms could retard the motility of bacterivorous nematode Caenorhabditis elegans via the production of a specific exopolysaccharide, Psl. Psl could reduce the roaming ability of C. elegans by impeding the slithering velocity of C. elegans. Furthermore, the presence of Psl in biofilms could entrap C. elegans within the matrix, with dire consequences to the nematode. After being trapped in biofilms, C. elegans could neither escape effectively from aversive stimuli (noxious blue light), nor leave easily to graze on susceptible biofilm areas. Hence, this reduced the ability of C. elegans to roam and predate on biofilms. Taken together, our work reveals a new function of motility interference by specific biofilm matrix components, and emphasizes its importance in predator–prey interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics