Nanopods are extracellular structures arising from the convergence of two widely distributed bacterial characteristics: production of outer membrane vesicles (OMV) and formation of surface layers (S-layers). Nanopod production is driven by OMV formation, and in Delftia acidovorans Cs1-4 growth on phenanthrene induces OMV/nanopod formation. While OMV production has been associated with many functions, particularly with pathogens, linkage to biodegradation has been limited to a membrane stress response to lipophilic compounds. The objectives of this study were to determine: 1.) Whether induction of nanopod formation was linked to phenanthrene metabolism or a non-specific membrane stress response, and 2.) The relative importance of OMV/nanopod formation vs. formation of the S-layer alone to phenanthrene utilization. Membrane stress response was investigated by quantifying nanopod formation following exposure to compounds that exceeded phenanthrene in membrane stress-inducing potential. Naphthalene did not induce nanopod formation, and toluene was a weak inducer compared to phenanthrene (two- vs. six-fold increase, respectively). Induction of nanopod formation by growth on phenanthrene was therefore linked to phenanthrene metabolism and not a membrane stress response. Impacts on phenanthrene biodegradation of OMV/nanopod production vs. S-layer formation were assessed with D. acidovorans Cs1-4 mutants deficient in S-layer formation or OMV/nanopod production. Both mutants had impaired growth on phenanthrene, but the loss of OMV/nanopod production was more significant than loss of the S-layer. The S-layer of D. acidovorans Cs1-4 did not affect phenanthrene uptake, and its primary role in phenanthrene biodegradation process appeared to be enabling nanopod development. Nanopods appeared to benefit phenanthrene biodegradation by enhancing cellular retention of metabolites. Collectively, these studies established that nanopod/OMV formation was an essential characteristic of the D. acidovorans Cs1-4 phenanthrene degradation process. This report thus established a new dimension in the area of biodegradation, namely, the involvement of extracellular structures as elements supporting metabolic processes underlying biodegradation.
Shetty, A., & Hickey, W. J. (2014). Effects of outer membrane vesicle formation, surface-layer production and Nanopod development on the metabolism of phenanthrene by Delftia acidovorans Cs1-4. PLoS ONE, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0092143