Background: Alteromonas macleodii is a ubiquitous gammaproteobacterium shown to play a biogeochemical role in marine environments. Two A. macleodii strains (AltDE and AltDE1) isolated from the same sample (i.e., the same place at the same time) show considerable genomic differences. In this study, we investigate the transcriptional response of these two strains to varying growth conditions in order to investigate differences in their ability to adapt to varying environmental parameters.
Results: RNA sequencing revealed transcriptional changes between all growth conditions examined (e.g., temperature and medium) as well as differences between the two A. macleodii strains within a given condition. The main inter-strain differences were more marked in the adaptation to grow on minimal medium with glucose and, even more so, under starvation. These differences suggested that AltDE1 may have an advantage over AltDE when glucose is the major carbon source, and co-culture experiments confirmed this advantage. Additional differences were observed between the two strains in the expression of ncRNAs and phage-related genes, as well as motility.
Conclusions: This study shows that the genomic diversity observed in closely related strains of A. macleodii from a single environment result in different transcriptional responses to changing environmental parameters. This data provides additional support for the idea that greater diversity at the strain level of a microbial community could enhance the community's ability to adapt to environmental shifts.