In Pseudomonas species, production of secondary metabolites and exoenzymes is regulated by the GacS/GacA two-component regulatory system. In P. fluorescens SBW25, mutations in the Gac-system cause major transcriptional changes and abolished production of the lipopeptide viscosin and of an exoprotease. In contrast to many other Pseudomonas species and strains, inactivation of the Gac-system in strain SBW25 significantly enhanced its antimicrobial activities against oomycete, fungal and bacterial pathogens. Here, random plasposon mutagenesis of the gacS mutant led to the identification of seven mutants with reduced or loss of antimicrobial activity. In four mutants, the plasposon insertion was located in genes of the pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) biosynthesis pathway. Genetic complementation, ectopic expression, activity bioassays and RP-HPLC analyses revealed that a gacS mutation in SBW25 leads to enhanced expression of pqq genes, resulting in an increase in gluconic and 2-ketogluconic acid production, which in turn acidified the extracellular medium to levels that inhibit growth of other microorganisms. We also showed that PQQ-mediated acidification comes with a growth penalty for the gacS mutant in the stationary phase. In conclusion, PQQ-mediated acidification compensates for the loss of several antimicrobial traits in P. fluorescens SBW25 and may help gac mutants to withstand competitors.
Cheng, X., van der Voort, M., & Raaijmakers, J. M. (2015). Gac-mediated changes in pyrroloquinoline quinone biosynthesis enhance the antimicrobial activity of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 7(1), 139-147. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-2229.12231