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Gene transfer between bacteria within digestive vacuoles of protozoa


Schlimme, Wolfram; Marchiani, Marcello; Hanselmann, Kurt; Jenni, Bernard (2006). Gene transfer between bacteria within digestive vacuoles of protozoa. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 23(3):239-247.

Abstract

The occurrence of horizontal gene transfer between bacteria within digestive vacuoles and faecal pellets of the protozoan Tetrahymena pyriformis was investigated. More than 90% of the egested faecal pellets of T. pyriformis, added as predator to a suspension of Escherichia coli, contained viable bacteria. In a mixed population, containing donor (plasmid RP4) and recipient E. coli cells, the presence of T. pyriformis increased conjugational gene transfer by three orders of magnitude. Since the protozoa formed an average of 12-13 digestive vacuoles per cell, each protozoan had statistically egested one or more transconjugants. Thus, we show for the first time that digestive vacuoles of free-living protozoa appear to be an important ecological micro-niche, where gene transfer by conjugation (or retromobilisation) will be favoured. So far, digestive vacuoles have been ignored in genetic and ecological studies. This micro-biotope provides a selective pressure which might enhance the acquisition of virulence genes in cases of mutual interactions between genetically modified micro-organisms and wild-type pathogens. This finding is important for biosafety considerations

Abstract

The occurrence of horizontal gene transfer between bacteria within digestive vacuoles and faecal pellets of the protozoan Tetrahymena pyriformis was investigated. More than 90% of the egested faecal pellets of T. pyriformis, added as predator to a suspension of Escherichia coli, contained viable bacteria. In a mixed population, containing donor (plasmid RP4) and recipient E. coli cells, the presence of T. pyriformis increased conjugational gene transfer by three orders of magnitude. Since the protozoa formed an average of 12-13 digestive vacuoles per cell, each protozoan had statistically egested one or more transconjugants. Thus, we show for the first time that digestive vacuoles of free-living protozoa appear to be an important ecological micro-niche, where gene transfer by conjugation (or retromobilisation) will be favoured. So far, digestive vacuoles have been ignored in genetic and ecological studies. This micro-biotope provides a selective pressure which might enhance the acquisition of virulence genes in cases of mutual interactions between genetically modified micro-organisms and wild-type pathogens. This finding is important for biosafety considerations

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:National licences > 142-005
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Risk assessment, Genetic engineering, Gene transfer, Phagosome, Tetrahymena, Environmental microbiology
Language:English
Date:17 January 2006
Deposited On:29 Oct 2018 15:22
Last Modified:15 Apr 2021 14:49
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0168-6496
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-6941.1997.tb00406.x

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