Discrete responses to limitation for iron and manganese in Agrobacterium tumefaciens: Influence on attachment and biofilm formation

Jason E. Heindl, Michael E. Hibbing, Jing Xu, Ramya Natarajan, Aaron M. Buechlein, Clay Fuqua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Transition metals such as iron and manganese are crucial trace nutrients for the growth of most bacteria, functioning as catalytic cofactors for many essential enzymes. Dedicated uptake and regulatory systems have evolved to ensure their acquisition for growth, while preventing toxicity. Transcriptomic analysis of the iron- and manganese-responsive regulons of Agrobacterium tumefaciens revealed that there are discrete regulatory networks that respond to changes in iron and manganese levels. Complementing earlier studies, the iron-responsive gene network is quite large and includes many aspects of iron-dependent metabolism and the iron-sparing response. In contrast, the manganese-responsive network is restricted to a limited number of genes, many of which can be linked to transport and utilization of the transition metal. Several of the target genes predicted to drive manganese uptake are required for growth under manganese-limited conditions, and an A. tumefaciens mutant with a manganese transport deficiency is attenuated for plant virulence. Iron and manganese limitation independently inhibit biofilm formation by A. tumefaciens, and several candidate genes that could impact biofilm formation were identified in each regulon. The biofilm-inhibitory effects of iron and manganese do not rely on recognized metal-responsive transcriptional regulators, suggesting alternate mechanisms influencing biofilm formation. However, under low-manganese conditions the dcpA operon is upregulated, encoding a system that controls levels of the cyclic di-GMP second messenger. Mutation of this regulatory pathway dampens the effect of manganese limitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-829
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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