Pivotal role of O-antigenic polysaccharide display in the sensitivity against phage tail-like particles in environmental Pseudomonas kin competition

ISME J. 2022 Jul;16(7):1683-1693. doi: 10.1038/s41396-022-01217-8. Epub 2022 Mar 10.


Environmental pseudomonads colonize various niches including insect and plant environments. When invading these environments, bacteria are confronted with the resident microbiota. To oppose with closely related strains, they rely on narrow-spectrum weaponry such as tailocins, i.e., phage tail-like particles. Little is known about the receptors for these tailocins especially among phylogenetically closely related species. Here, we studied the interaction between an R-tailocin from Pseudomonas protegens CHA0 and a targeted kin, Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5. Using genome-wide transposon insertion sequencing, we identified that lipopolysaccharides are involved in the sensitivity of Pf-5 towards the tailocin of CHA0. By generating Pf-5 lipopolysaccharide mutants and exposing them to extracted tailocin, we specified the two O-antigenic polysaccharides (O-PS) targeted by the tailocin. We affirmed the role of these O-PS through competition assays in vitro as well as in insects. Further, we demonstrate that O-PS are double-edge swords that are responsible for the sensitivity of P. protegens towards tailocins and phages produced by their kin, but shield bacteria from the immune system of the insect. Our results shed light on the trade-off that bacteria are confronted with, where specific O-PS decorations can both be of benefit or disadvantage depending on the host environment and its bacterial inhabitants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages* / genetics
  • O Antigens*
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas / genetics


  • O Antigens

Supplementary concepts

  • Pseudomonas protegens

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.1zcrjdft6