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Title: Activation of retinal glial (Müller) cells by extracellular ATP induces pronounced increases in extracellular H+ flux
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Elkins, Christopher A. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the spread of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) pose a serious risk to human and veterinary health. While many studies focus on the movement of live antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the environment, it is unclear whether extracellular ARGs (eARGs) from dead cells can transfer to live bacteria to facilitate the evolution of antibiotic resistance in nature. Here, we use eARGs from dead, antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas stutzeri cells to track the movement of eARGs to live P. stutzeri cells via natural transformation, a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer involving the genomic integration of eARGs. In sterile, antibiotic-free agricultural soil, we manipulated the eARG concentration, soil moisture, and proximity to eARGs. We found that transformation occurred in soils inoculated with just 0.25 μg of eDNA g −1 soil, indicating that even low concentrations of soil eDNA can facilitate transformation (previous estimates suggested ∼2 to 40 μg eDNA g −1 soil). When eDNA was increased to 5 μg g −1 soil, there was a 5-fold increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant P. stutzeri cells. We found that eARGs were transformed under soil moistures typical of terrestrial systems (5 to 30% gravimetric water content) but inhibited at very high soil moistures (>30%). Overall, this work demonstratesmore »that dead bacteria and their eARGs are an overlooked path to antibiotic resistance. More generally, the spread of eARGs in antibiotic-free soil suggests that transformation allows genetic variants to establish in the absence of antibiotic selection and that the soil environment plays a critical role in regulating transformation. IMPORTANCE Bacterial death can release eARGs into the environment. Agricultural soils can contain upwards of 10 9 ARGs g −1 soil, which may facilitate the movement of eARGs from dead to live bacteria through a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer called natural transformation. Here, we track the spread of eARGs from dead, antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas stutzeri cells to live antibiotic-susceptible P. stutzeri cells in sterile agricultural soil. Transformation increased with the abundance of eARGs and occurred in soils ranging from 5 to 40% gravimetric soil moisture but was lowest in wet soils (>30%). Transformants appeared in soil after 24 h and persisted for up to 15 days even when eDNA concentrations were only a fraction of those found in field soils. Overall, our results show that natural transformation allows eARGs to spread and persist in antibiotic-free soils and that the biological activity of eDNA after bacterial death makes environmental eARGs a public health concern.« less
  2. This work shines light on the role of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) in the formation and preservation of elemental sulfur biominerals produced by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. We characterized elemental sulfur particles produced within a Sulfurovum -rich biofilm in the Frasassi Cave System (Italy). The particles adopt spherical and bipyramidal morphologies, and display both stable (α-S 8 ) and metastable (β-S 8 ) crystal structures. Elemental sulfur is embedded within a dense matrix of EPS, and the particles are surrounded by organic envelopes rich in amide and carboxylic groups. Organic encapsulation and the presence of metastable crystal structures are consistent with elemental sulfur organomineralization, i.e., the formation and stabilization of elemental sulfur in the presence of organics, a mechanism that has previously been observed in laboratory studies. This research provides new evidence for the important role of microbial EPS in mineral formation in the environment. We hypothesize that the extracellular organics are used by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria for the stabilization of elemental sulfur minerals outside of the cell wall as a store of chemical energy. The stabilization of energy sources (in the form of a solid electron acceptor) in biofilms is a potential new role for microbial EPS that requires further investigation.