The protein RpoS is responsible for mediating cell survival during the stationary phase by conferring cell resistance to various stressors and has been linked to biofilm formation. In this study, the role of the rpoS gene in Escherichia coli O157:H7 biofilm formation and survival in water was investigated. Confocal scanning laser microscopy of biofilms established on coverslips revealed a nutrient-dependent role of rpoS in biofilm formation, where the biofilm biomass volume of the rpoS mutant was 2.4- to 7.5-fold the size of its rpoS+ wild-type counterpart in minimal growth medium. The enhanced biofilm formation of the rpoS mutant did not, however, translate to increased survival in sterile double-distilled water (ddH2O), filter-sterilized lake water, or unfiltered lake water. The rpoS mutant had an overall reduction of 3.10 and 5.30 log10 in sterile ddH2O and filter-sterilized lake water, respectively, while only minor reductions of 0.53 and 0.61 log10 in viable counts were observed for the wild-type form in the two media over a 13-day period, respectively. However, the survival rates of the detached biofilm-derived rpoS+ and rpoS mutant cells were comparable. Under the competitive stress conditions of unfiltered lake water, the advantage conferred by the presence of rpoS was lost, and both the wild-type and knockout forms displayed similar declines in viable counts. These results suggest that rpoS does have an influence on both biofilm formation and survival of E. coli O157:H7 and that the advantage conferred by rpoS is contingent on the environmental conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Food Science