C. Liao, X. Liang, F. Yang, M. Soupir, A. Howe, M. Thompson, L. Jarboe
Frontiers in Microbiology, 8:Article 708, 15 pg
Publication year: 2017

Understanding the genetic factors that govern microbe-sediment interactions in aquatic environments is important for water quality management and reduction of waterborne disease outbreaks. Although chemical properties of bacteria have been identified that contribute to initiation of attachment, the outer membrane proteins that contribute to these chemical properties still remain unclear. In this study we explored the attachment of 78 Escherichia coli environmental isolates to corn stover, a representative agricultural residue. Outer membrane proteome analysis led to the observation of amino acid variations, some of which had not been previously described, in outer membrane protein A (OmpA) at 10 distinct locations, including each of the four extracellular loops, three of the eight transmembrane segments, the proline-rich linker and the dimerization domain. Some of the polymorphisms within loops 1, 2, and 3 were found to significantly co-occur. Grouping of sequences according to the outer loop polymorphisms revealed five distinct patterns that each occur in at least 5% of our isolates. The two most common patterns, I and II, are encoded by 33.3 and 20.5% of these isolates and differ at each of the four loops. Statistically significant differences in attachment to corn stover were observed among isolates expressing different versions of OmpA and when different versions of OmpA were expressed in the same genetic background. Most notable was the increased corn stover attachment associated with a loop 3 sequence of SNFDGKN relative to the standard SNVYGKN sequence. These results provide further insight into the allelic variation of OmpA and implicate OmpA in contributing to attachment to corn stover.