Green fluorescent protein as a marker for Pseudomonas spp.
The development of sensitive methods for observing individual bacterial cells in a population in experimental models and natural environments, such as in biofilms or on plant roots, is of great importance for studying these systems. We report the construction of plasmids which constitutively express a bright mutant of the green fluorescent protein of the jellyfish Aequorea victoria and are stably maintained in Pseudomonas spp. We demonstrate the utility of these plasmids to detect individual cells in two experimental laboratory systems: (i) the examination of a mixed bacterial population of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia attached to an abiotic surface and (ii) the association of Pseudomonas fluorescens WCS365 with tomato seedling roots. We also show that two plasmids, pSMC2 and pGB5, are particularly useful, because they are stable in the absence of antibiotic selection, they place an undetectable metabolic burden on cells that carry the plasmids, and cells carrying these constructs continue to fluoresce even after 7 days in culture without the addition of fresh nutrients. The construction of improved Escherichia coli-Pseudomonas shuttle vectors which carry multiple drug resistance markers also is described.