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Environmental modification via a quorum sensing molecule influences the social landscape of siderophore production

Popat, Roman; Harrison, Freya; da Silva, Ana C.; Easton, Scott A.S.; McNally, Luke; Williams, Paul; Diggle, Stephen P.

Authors

Roman Popat

Freya Harrison

Ana C. da Silva

Scott A.S. Easton

Luke McNally

Paul Williams

Stephen P. Diggle



Abstract

Bacteria produce a wide variety of exoproducts that favourably modify their environment and increase their fitness. These are often termed ‘public goods’ because they are costly for individuals to produce and can be exploited by non-producers (‘cheats’). The outcome of conflict over public goods is dependent upon the prevailing environment and the phenotype of the individuals in competition. Many bacterial species use quorum sensing (QS) signalling molecules to regulate the production of public goods. QS therefore determines the cooperative phenotype of individuals, and influences conflict over public goods. In addition to their regulatory functions, many QS molecules have additional properties that directly modify the prevailing environment. This leads to the possibility that QS molecules could influence conflict over public goods indirectly through non-signalling effects, and the impact of this on social competition has not previously been explored. The Pseudomonas aeruginosa QS signal molecule PQS is a powerful chelator of iron which can cause an iron starvation response. Here we show that PQS stimulates a concentration-dependent increase in the cooperative production of iron scavenging siderophores, resulting in an increase in the relative fitness of non-producing siderophore cheats. This is likely due to an increased cost of siderophore output by producing cells and a concurrent increase in the shared benefits, which accrue to both producers and cheats. Although PQS can be a beneficial signalling molecule for P. aeruginosa, our data suggests that it can also render a siderophore-producing population vulnerable to competition from cheating strains. More generally our results indicate that the production of one social trait can indirectly affect the costs and benefits of another social trait.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 12, 2017
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 1471-2954
Publisher Royal Society, The
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 284
Issue 1852
Article Number 20170200
APA6 Citation Popat, R., Harrison, F., da Silva, A. C., Easton, S. A., McNally, L., Williams, P., & Diggle, S. P. (2017). Environmental modification via a quorum sensing molecule influences the social landscape of siderophore production. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284(1852), https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.0200
DOI https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.0200
Keywords quorum sensing; public goods; cooperation; cheating; iron; siderophores
Publisher URL http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1852/20170200
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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