Francisella novicida forms in vitro biofilms mediated by an orphan response regulator

Microb Ecol. 2010 Apr;59(3):457-65. doi: 10.1007/s00248-009-9586-9. Epub 2009 Sep 19.


Francisella tularensis is associated with water and waterways and infects many species of animals, insects, and protists. The mechanism Francisella utilizes to persist in the environment and in tick vectors is currently unknown. We have demonstrated for the first time that Francisella novicida, a model organism of F. tularensis, forms a biofilm in vitro. Selected F. novicida transposon mutants were tested for their ability to form biofilm compared to the wildtype F. novicida strain. Mutation of the putative qseB gene led to an impairment in the ability to form biofilm with no impairment in bacterial growth. A qseC mutant had impaired growth but demonstrated a marked impairment in biofilm production. Mutation in capC affected both bacterial growth and biofilm formation, but no biofilm production impairment was seen with capB or pilE mutants. A deletion mutant in the orphan response regulator FTN_1465, which we propose is the putative QseB, formed significantly less biofilm than the wildtype. When FTN_1465 was complemented back into the deletion mutant, biofilm formation was restored. Thus, the orphan response regulator FTN_1465 is an important factor in biofilm production in vitro in F. novicida. These results demonstrate that Francisella species are able to form biofilms in vitro, suggesting that biofilm formation may be important for the lifecycle of this organism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Francisella / genetics
  • Francisella / growth & development*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Mutagenesis
  • Orphan Nuclear Receptors / genetics
  • Orphan Nuclear Receptors / metabolism*
  • Sequence Deletion


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Orphan Nuclear Receptors