Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, also known as citrus greening disease, was first reported in the US in 2005. Since then, the disease has decimated the citrus industry in Florida, resulting in billions of dollars in crop losses and the destruction of thousands of acres of citrus groves. The causative agent of citrus greening disease is the phloem limited pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. As it has not been cultured, very little is known about the structural biology of the organism. Liberibacter are part of the Rhizobiaceae family, which includes nitrogen-fixing symbionts of legumes as well as the Agrobacterium plant pathogens. To better understand the Liberibacter genus, a closely related culturable bacterium (Liberibacter crescens or Lcr) has attracted attention as a model organism for structural and functional genomics of Liberibacters. Given that the structure of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from Gram-negative bacteria plays a crucial role in mediating host-pathogen interactions, we sought to characterize the LPS from Lcr. We found that the major lipid A component of the LPS consisted of a pentaacylated molecule with a β-6-GlcN disaccharide backbone lacking phosphate. The polysaccharide portion of the LPS was unusual compared to previously described members of the Rhizobiaceae family in that it contained ribofuranosyl residues. The LPS structure presented here allows us to extrapolate known LPS structure/function relationships to members of the Liberibacter genus which cannot yet be cultured. It also offers insights into the biology of the organism and how they manage to effectively attack citrus trees.
AbstractCultivation of microbial consortia provides low-complexity communities that can serve as tractable models to understand community dynamics. Time-resolved metagenomics demonstrated that an aerobic cellulolytic consortium cultivated from compost exhibited community dynamics consistent with the definition of an endogenous heterotrophic succession. The genome of the proposed pioneer population, ‘Candidatus Reconcilibacillus cellulovorans’, possessed a gene cluster containing multidomain glycoside hydrolases (GHs). Purification of the soluble cellulase activity from a 300litre cultivation of this consortium revealed that ~70% of the activity arose from the ‘Ca. Reconcilibacillus cellulovorans’ multidomain GHs assembled into cellulase complexes through glycosylation. These remarkably stable complexes have supramolecular structures for enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis that are distinct from cellulosomes. The persistence of these complexes during cultivation indicates that they may be active through multiple cultivations of this consortium and act as public goods that sustain the community. The provision of extracellular GHs as public goods may influence microbial community dynamics in native biomass-deconstructing communities relevant to agriculture, human health and biotechnology.