Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32532998
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41522-020-0134-1
NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes 2020 06; 6(1): 24
The zoonotic bacterium Leptospira interrogans is the aetiological agent of leptospirosis, a re-emerging infectious disease that is a growing public health concern. Most human cases of leptospirosis result from environmental infection. Biofilm formation and its contribution to the persistence of virulent leptospires in the environment or in the host have scarcely been addressed. Here, we examined spatial and time-domain changes in biofilm production by L. interrogans. Our observations showed that biofilm formation in L. interrogans is a highly dynamic process and leads to a polarized architecture. We notably found that the biofilm matrix is composed of extracellular DNA, which enhances the biofilm’s cohesiveness. By studying L. interrogans mutants with defective diguanylate cyclase and phosphodiesterase genes, we show that biofilm production is regulated by intracellular levels of bis-(3′-5′)-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) and underpins the bacterium’s ability to withstand a wide variety of simulated environmental stresses. Our present results show how the c-di-GMP pathway regulates biofilm formation by L. interrogans, provide insights into the environmental persistence of L. interrogans and, more generally, highlight leptospirosis as an environment-borne threat to human health.