Kroth, Peter G.
Biofilm and capsule formation of the diatom Achnanthidium minutissimum are affected by a bacterium
2015, Windler, Miriam, Leinweber, Katrin, Río Bártulos, Carolina, Philipp, Bodo, Kroth, Peter G.
Photoautotrophic biofilms play an important role in various aquatic habitats and are composed of prokaryotic and/or eukaryotic organisms embedded in extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). We have isolated diatoms as well as bacteria from freshwater biofilms to study organismal interactions between representative isolates. We found that bacteria have a strong impact on the biofilm formation of the pennate diatom Achnanthidium minutissimum. This alga produces extracellular capsules of insoluble EPS, mostly carbohydrates (CHO), only in the presence of bacteria (xenic culture). The EPS themselves also have a strong impact on the aggregation and attachment of the algae. In the absence of bacteria (axenic culture), A. minutissimum did not form capsules and the cells grew completely suspended. Fractionation and quantification of CHO revealed that the diatom in axenic culture produces large amounts of soluble CHO, whereas in the xenic culture mainly insoluble CHO were detected. For investigation of biofilm formation by A. minutissimum, a bioassay was established using a diatom satellite Bacteroidetes bacterium that had been shown to induce capsule formation of A. minutissimum. Interestingly, capsule and biofilm induction can be achieved by addition of bacterial spent medium, indicating that soluble hydrophobic molecules produced by the bacterium may mediate the diatom/bacteria interaction. With the designed bioassay, a reliable tool is now available to study the chemical interactions between diatoms and bacteria with consequences for biofilm formation.