McLean, J. S., Majors, P. D., Reardon, C. L., Bilskis, C. L., Reed, S. B., Romine, M. F., Fredrickson, J. K.
Investigations of Structure and Metabolism Within Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 Biofilms
J Microbiol Methods. 2008 Jul 01; 74(1): 47-56.
Biofilms possess spatially and temporally varying metabolite concentration profiles at the macroscopic and microscopic scales. This results in varying growth environments that may ultimately drive species diversity, determine biofilm structure and the spatial distribution of the community members. Using non-invasive nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) microscopic imaging/spectroscopy and confocal imaging, we investigated the kinetics and stratification of anaerobic metabolism within live biofilms of the dissimilatory metal-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1. Biofilms were pre-grown using a defined minimal medium in a constant-depth film bioreactor and subsequently transferred to an in-magnet sample chamber under laminar flow for NMR measurements. Biofilms generated in this manner were subjected to changing substrate/electron acceptor combinations (fumarate, dimethyl sulfoxide, and nitrate) and the metabolic responses measured. Localized NMR spectroscopy was used to non-invasively measure hydrogen-containing metabolites at high temporal resolution (4.5 min) under O(2)-limited conditions. Reduction of electron acceptor under anaerobic conditions was immediately observed upon switching feed solutions indicating that no gene induction (transcriptional response) was needed for MR-1 to switch metabolism from O(2) to fumarate, dimethyl sulfoxide or nitrate. In parallel experiments, confocal microscopy was used with constitutively expressed fluorescent reporters to independently investigate changes in population response to the availability of electron acceptor and to probe metabolic competition under O(2)-limited conditions. A clearer understanding of the metabolic diversity and plasticity of the biofilm mode of growth as well as how these factors relate to environmental fitness is made possible through the use of non-invasive and non-destructive techniques such as described herein.