Adaptation to copper stress influences biofilm formation in Alteromonas macleodii

An Alteromonas macleodii strain was isolated from copper-containing coupons incubated in surface seawater (Key West, FL, USA). In addition to the original isolate, a copper-adapted mutant was created and maintained with 0.78 mM Cu2+. Biofilm formation was compared between the two strains under copper-amended and low-nutrient conditions. Biofilm formation was significantly increased in the original isolate under copper amendment, while biofilm formation was significantly higher in the mutant under low-nutrient conditions. Biofilm expression profiles of diguanylate cyclase (DGC) genes, as well as genes involved in secretion, differed between the strains. Comparative genomic analysis demonstrated that both strains possessed a large number of gene attachment harboring cyclic di-GMP synthesis and/or degradation domains. One of the DGC genes, induced at very high levels in the mutant, possessed a degradation domain in the original isolate that was lacking in the mutant. The genetic and transcriptional mechanisms contributing to biofilm formation are discussed.