Regulation of Biofilm Formation and Anti-protozoal Activity of Vibrio Cholerae

Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of cholera and infects hundreds of thousands of people every year. In between outbreaks, it is thought to exist in environmental reservoirs within biofilms, where V. cholerae must protect itself from the major stress on bacteria, which is predation by protozoa. Virulence factors expressed by bacterial pathogens may have evolved in the environment where bacteria must defend themselves against predation by protozoans.

We have demonstrated that bacteria attach to surfaces and form biofilms in the presence of protozoans, where bacterial cells in the biofilms are protected from grazing. V. cholerae appears to actively respond to the presence of protozoans by increasing biofilm formation and the expression of virulence factors. This project uses the recently described recombination-based in vivo expression technology (RIVET) in order to identify genes that are expressed in the presence of grazing pressure. Identification of such genes will allow us to understand how virulence evolves in nature.

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