An intricate network of regulators controls biofilm formation and colonization by Vibrio fischeri

Mol Microbiol. 2009 Nov;74(4):782-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06899.x. Epub 2009 Oct 8.


The initial encounter between a microbe and its host can dictate the success of the interaction, be it symbiosis or pathogenesis. This is the case, for example, in the symbiosis between the bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the squid Euprymna scolopes, which proceeds via a biofilm-like bacterial aggregation, followed by entry and growth. A key regulator, the sensor kinase RscS, is critical for symbiotic biofilm formation and colonization. When introduced into a fish symbiont strain that naturally lacks the rscS gene and cannot colonize squid, RscS permits colonization, thereby extending the host range of these bacteria. RscS controls biofilm formation by inducing transcription of the symbiosis polysaccharide (syp) gene locus. Transcription of syp also requires the sigma(54)-dependent activator SypG, which functions downstream of RscS. In addition to these regulators, SypE, a response regulator that lacks an apparent DNA binding domain, exerts both positive and negative control over biofilm formation. The putative sensor kinase SypF and the putative response regulator VpsR, both of which contribute to control of cellulose production, also influence biofilm formation. The wealth of regulators and the correlation between biofilm formation and colonization adds to the already considerable utility of the V. fischeri-E. scolopes model system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aliivibrio fischeri / growth & development
  • Aliivibrio fischeri / pathogenicity
  • Aliivibrio fischeri / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Decapodiformes / microbiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Regulon
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Vibrio Infections / microbiology
  • Vibrio Infections / veterinary*
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Virulence Factors