Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are zoonotic pathogens once considered asaccharolytic, but are now known to encode pathways for glucose and fucose uptake/metabolism. For C. jejuni, strains with the fuc locus possess a competitive advantage in animal colonization models. We demonstrate that this locus is present in > 50% of genome-sequenced strains and is prevalent in livestock-associated isolates of both species. To better understand how these campylobacters sense nutrient availability, we examined biofilm formation and chemotaxis to fucose. C. jejuni NCTC11168 forms less biofilms in the presence of fucose, although its fucose permease mutant (fucP) shows no change. In a newly developed chemotaxis assay, both wild-type and the fucP mutant are chemotactic towards fucose. C. jejuni 81-176 naturally lacks the fuc locus and is unable to swim towards fucose. Transfer of the NCTC11168 locus into 81-176 activated fucose uptake and chemotaxis. Fucose chemotaxis also correlated with possession of the pathway for C. jejuni RM1221 (fuc+) and 81116 (fuc-). Systematic mutation of the NCTC11168 locus revealed that Cj0485 is necessary for fucose metabolism and chemotaxis. This study suggests that components for fucose chemotaxis are encoded within the fuc locus, but downstream signals only in fuc + strains, are involved in coordinating fucose availability with biofilm development.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.