Vibrio vulnificus is an estuarine bacterium capable of causing rapidly fatal infections through both ingestion and wound infection. Like other opportunistic pathogens, V. vulnificus must adapt to potentially stressful environmental changes while living freely in seawater, upon colonization of the oyster gut, and upon infection of such diverse hosts as humans and eels. In order to begin to understand the ability of V. vulnificus to respond to such stresses, we examined the role of the alternate sigma factor RpoS, which is important in stress response and virulence in many pathogens. An rpoS mutant of V. vulnificus strain C7184o was constructed by homologous recombination. The mutant strain exhibited a decreased ability to survive diverse environmental stresses, including exposure to hydrogen peroxide, hyperosmolarity, and acidic conditions. The most striking difference was a high sensitivity of the mutant to hydrogen peroxide. Albuminase, caseinase, and elastase activity were detected in the wild type but not in the mutant strain, and an additional two hydrolytic activities (collagenase and gelatinase) were reduced in the mutant strain compared to the wild type. Additionally, the motility of the rpoS mutant was severely diminished. Overall, these studies suggest that rpoS in V. vulnificus is important for adaptation to environmental changes and may have a role in virulence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology