Glyphosate resistance as a novel select-agent-compliant, non-antibiotic-selectable marker in chromosomal mutagenesis of the essential genes asd and dapB of Burkholderia pseudomallei

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2009 Oct;75(19):6062-75. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00820-09. Epub 2009 Jul 31.


Genetic manipulation of the category B select agents Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei has been stifled due to the lack of compliant selectable markers. Hence, there is a need for additional select-agent-compliant selectable markers. We engineered a selectable marker based on the gat gene (encoding glyphosate acetyltransferase), which confers resistance to the common herbicide glyphosate (GS). To show the ability of GS to inhibit bacterial growth, we determined the effective concentrations of GS against Escherichia coli and several Burkholderia species. Plasmids based on gat, flanked by unique flip recombination target (FRT) sequences, were constructed for allelic-replacement. Both allelic-replacement approaches, one using the counterselectable marker pheS and the gat-FRT cassette and one using the DNA incubation method with the gat-FRT cassette, were successfully utilized to create deletions in the asd and dapB genes of wild-type B. pseudomallei strains. The asd and dapB genes encode an aspartate-semialdehyde dehydrogenase (BPSS1704, chromosome 2) and dihydrodipicolinate reductase (BPSL2941, chromosome 1), respectively. Mutants unable to grow on media without diaminopimelate (DAP) and other amino acids of this pathway were PCR verified. These mutants displayed cellular morphologies consistent with the inability to cross-link peptidoglycan in the absence of DAP. The B. pseudomallei 1026b Deltaasd::gat-FRT mutant was complemented with the B. pseudomallei asd gene on a site-specific transposon, mini-Tn7-bar, by selecting for the bar gene (encoding bialaphos/PPT resistance) with PPT. We conclude that the gat gene is one of very few appropriate, effective, and beneficial compliant markers available for Burkholderia select-agent species. Together with the bar gene, the gat cassette will facilitate various genetic manipulations of Burkholderia select-agent species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / genetics
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei / drug effects*
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, Essential*
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Microbial Viability
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / methods*
  • Plasmids
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • glyphosate
  • Acetyltransferases
  • glyphosate N-acetyltransferase
  • Glycine

Associated data

  • GENBANK/FJ384986
  • GENBANK/FJ826509
  • GENBANK/FJ858785
  • GENBANK/FJ858786