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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Key Metabolites and Mechanistic Changes for Salt Tolerance in an Experimentally Evolved Sulfate-Reducing Bacterium, Desulfovibrio vulgaris.

  • Author(s): Zhou, Aifen
  • Lau, Rebecca
  • Baran, Richard
  • Ma, Jincai
  • von Netzer, Frederick
  • Shi, Weiling
  • Gorman-Lewis, Drew
  • Kempher, Megan L
  • He, Zhili
  • Qin, Yujia
  • Shi, Zhou
  • Zane, Grant M
  • Wu, Liyou
  • Bowen, Benjamin P
  • Northen, Trent R
  • Hillesland, Kristina L
  • Stahl, David A
  • Wall, Judy D
  • Arkin, Adam P
  • Zhou, Jizhong
  • et al.

Rapid genetic and phenotypic adaptation of the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough to salt stress was observed during experimental evolution. In order to identify key metabolites important for salt tolerance, a clone, ES10-5, which was isolated from population ES10 and allowed to experimentally evolve under salt stress for 5,000 generations, was analyzed and compared to clone ES9-11, which was isolated from population ES9 and had evolved under the same conditions for 1,200 generations. These two clones were chosen because they represented the best-adapted clones among six independently evolved populations. ES10-5 acquired new mutations in genes potentially involved in salt tolerance, in addition to the preexisting mutations and different mutations in the same genes as in ES9-11. Most basal abundance changes of metabolites and phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) were lower in ES10-5 than ES9-11, but an increase of glutamate and branched PLFA i17:1ω9c under high-salinity conditions was persistent. ES9-11 had decreased cell motility compared to the ancestor; in contrast, ES10-5 showed higher cell motility under both nonstress and high-salinity conditions. Both genotypes displayed better growth energy efficiencies than the ancestor under nonstress or high-salinity conditions. Consistently, ES10-5 did not display most of the basal transcriptional changes observed in ES9-11, but it showed increased expression of genes involved in glutamate biosynthesis, cation efflux, and energy metabolism under high salinity. These results demonstrated the role of glutamate as a key osmolyte and i17:1ω9c as the major PLFA for salt tolerance in D. vulgaris The mechanistic changes in evolved genotypes suggested that growth energy efficiency might be a key factor for selection.IMPORTANCE High salinity (e.g., elevated NaCl) is a stressor that affects many organisms. Salt tolerance, a complex trait involving multiple cellular pathways, is attractive for experimental evolutionary studies. Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough is a model sulfate-reducing bacterium (SRB) that is important in biogeochemical cycling of sulfur, carbon, and nitrogen, potentially for bio-corrosion, and for bioremediation of toxic heavy metals and radionuclides. The coexistence of SRB and high salinity in natural habitats and heavy metal-contaminated field sites laid the foundation for the study of salt adaptation of D. vulgaris Hildenborough with experimental evolution. Here, we analyzed a clone that evolved under salt stress for 5,000 generations and compared it to a clone evolved under the same condition for 1,200 generations. The results indicated the key roles of glutamate for osmoprotection and of i17:1ω9c for increasing membrane fluidity during salt adaptation. The findings provide valuable insights about the salt adaptation mechanism changes during long-term experimental evolution.

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