When you mess with chattin’, bacteria stink at snackin’.
Kayleigh E. Nyffeler is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She graduated from Purdue University in 2013 with a B.S. in Biochemistry while pursuing research in Prof. Joe Kappock’s lab characterizing proteins from Acetobacter aceti. Prior to graduate school, she worked for one year as a Research Assistant in Prof. Clint Chapple’s lab at Purdue learning techniques in Arabidopsis genetics. Kayleigh is currently a second-year graduate student in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Prof. Helen Blackwell’s laboratory. After graduation from UW-Madison, she is currently interested in pursuing research in a government lab or as a clinical microbiologist.
Temporal Control of Bacterial Quorum Sensing Using Small Molecule Modulators
Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1101 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen that uses a phenomenon termed quorum sensing (QS) for cell-cell communication. QS allows P. aeruginosa to coordinate group behaviors at high cell densities, controls almost 10% of its genome, and is heavily implicated in production of virulence factors that play in important role in human disease. Our laboratory uses chemical strategies to modulate QS, which can allow for temporal and spatial control of QS phenotypes. Aberrant agonism of the QS receptor RhlR in P. aeruginosa with small molecules leads, surprisingly, to growth defects under certain media conditions. We show here that these defects appear to be highly dependent on carbon source and are not limited to a specific small molecule RhlR agonist. In addition, agonists added after the cells have begun to transition into exponential phase no longer cause a delay. These results suggest ties between QS and central metabolism in P. aeruginosa. In view of these findings, our broad goal is to delineate links between QS and metabolism that can be exploited, alongside other chemical tools, to better understand and control the group behaviors of P. aeruginosa in health relevant environments. This poster will outline our latest results in this arena.