Spatially dependent alkyl quinolone signaling responses to antibiotics in Pseudomonas aeruginosa swarms

Nydia Morales-Soto, Sage J.B. Dunham, Nameera F. Baig, Joseph F. Ellis, Chinedu S. Madukoma, Paul W. Bohn, Jonathan V. Sweedler, Joshua D. Shrout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a general lack of understanding about how communities of bacteria respond to exogenous toxins such as antibiotics. Most of our understanding of community-level stress responses comes from the study of stationary biofilm communities. Although several community behaviors and production of specific biomolecules affecting biofilm development and associated behavior have been described for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacteria, we have little appreciation for the production and dispersal of secreted metabolites within the 2D and 3D spaces they occupy as they colonize, spread, and grow on surfaces. Here we specifically studied the phenotypic responses and spatial variability of alkyl quinolones, including the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) and members of the alkyl hydroxyquinoline (AQNO) subclass, in P. aeruginosa plate-assay swarming communities. We found that PQS production was not a universal signaling response to antibiotics, as tobramycin elicited an alkyl quinolone response, whereas carbenicillin did not. We also found that PQS and AQNO profiles in response to tobramycin were markedly distinct and influenced these swarms on different spatial scales. At some tobramycin exposures, P. aeruginosa swarms produced alkyl quinolones in the range of 150 M PQS and 400 M AQNO that accumulated as aggregates. Our collective findings show that the distribution of alkyl quinolones can vary by several orders of magnitude within the same swarming community. More notably, our results suggest that multiple intercellular signals acting on different spatial scales can be triggered by one common cue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9544-9552
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 15 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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