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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bacteriocins of Erwinia carotovora Jais, Hasnah bte Md.


The sensitivity of Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica to bacteriocins produced by strains in the common potato serogroups of E. carotovora was investigated. Bacteriocins produced by representative strains of the common serogroups had activity spectra containing strains from one to six sensitive serogroups. Similarly, indicator strains representing different serogroups showed variable sensitivity. One indicator strain was sensitive to bacteriocins produced by only one producing strain while others were sensitive to bacteriocins produced by strains in several different serogroups. Bacteriocin production in the serogroups tested was detected only from strains that were biochemically E.c. subsp. carotovora (Ecc). Strains in all four E.c. subsp. atroseptica (Eca) serogroups were bacteriocin sensitive and non-producers. Some Ecc strains were bacteriocin producers and sensitive to bacteriocins produced by strains in other serogroups. Production and sensitivity were not correlated with the frequency of distribution of the more common serogroups isolated in nature. Representative strains in the two most common serogroups (I and III) were sensitive to bacteriocins produced by representative strains in three and six serogroups respectively. Strains in some of the less common serogroups (IX, XI and XVI) were bacteriocin producers but were not sensitive to the bacteriocins produced by the representative strains tested. Thus, a role for bacteriocins in the survival of these strains in nature cannot be ruled out. Of the 44 serogroup XI strains tested by the agar overlay technique, 31 were "typical producers", 10 were "differential producers" and only three were "non-producers". However, bacteriocin production in the latter group could be detected after induction with Mitomycin C but not with UV light. In the five serogroups in which several strains were tested, bacteriocin production and sensitivity were serogroup rather than subspecies characteristics. In dual culture studies the starting ratio of "typical producer" to sensitive strains of 1:1000 prevented detectable growth of the sensitive strains. By comparison a starting ratio of 100:1 with a "non-producer" strain did not prevent growth of the sensitive strains. Similar results were obtained when potato tuber discs were inoculated with varying starting ratios and the population monitored after 48 h. Thus, bacteriocin producing strains have a selective advantage when grown together in vitro with the bacteriocin sensitive, non-producing strains. Bacteriocin titres were enhanced by Mitomycin C induction and partial purification. Following ammonium sulfate precipitation and ultracentrifugation (150 000 x g for 90 min), bacteriocin activity in the resuspended pellet was associated with particles which by transmission electron microscopy resembled contractile, bacteriophage tail-like particles. These particles (due to their molecular size) were associated with small (≈ 4 mm) clear zones of inhibition in the spot assay tests. "Bacteriocin-like" activity in the supernatant was resolved by gel filtration into three fractions with estimated molecular weights of 17 700, 29 500 and 224 000 D. The first two fractions showed large (up to 20 mm) diffuse zones of inhibition. The third fraction showed small (≈ 4 mm) clear zones of inhibition. All four fractions had similar activity spectra against representative indicator strains and were produced by all of the serogroup XI producer strains tested. Relative production differed depending on the strain. The threshold of sensitivity displayed by the indicator strains varied with the fractions. The resuspended pellets had the highest titres which suggested that those macromolecular bacteriocins were responsible for the antagonism in in vitro and possibly in nature.

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