Open Access Open Badges Research article

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae genes expression in biofilms cultured under static conditions and in a drip-flow apparatus

Yannick DN Tremblay, Vincent Deslandes and Mario Jacques*

Author Affiliations

Groupe de recherche sur les maladies infectieuses du porc, Faculté de médecine vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, 3200 Sicotte, St-Hyacinthe, Québec, J2S 7C6, Canada

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:364  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-364

Published: 31 May 2013



Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae is the Gram-negative bacterium responsible for porcine pleuropneumonia. This respiratory infection is highly contagious and characterized by high morbidity and mortality. The objectives of our study were to study the transcriptome of A. pleuropneumoniae biofilms at different stages and to develop a protocol to grow an A. pleuropneumoniae biofilm in a drip-flow apparatus. This biofilm reactor is a system with an air-liquid interface modeling lung-like environment. Bacteria attached to a surface (biofilm) and free floating bacteria (plankton) were harvested for RNA isolation. Labelled cDNA was hybridized to a microarray to compare the expression profiles of planktonic cells and biofilm cells.


It was observed that 47 genes were differentially expressed (22 up, 25 down) in a 4 h-static growing/maturing biofilm and 117 genes were differentially expressed (49 up, 68 down) in a 6h-static dispersing biofilm. The transcriptomes of a 4 h biofilm and a 6 h biofilm were also compared and 456 genes (235 up, 221 down) were identified as differently expressed. Among the genes identified in the 4 h vs 6h biofilm experiment, several regulators of stress response were down-regulated and energy metabolism associated genes were up-regulated. Biofilm bacteria cultured using the drip-flow apparatus differentially expressed 161 genes (68 up, 93 down) compared to the effluent bacteria. Cross-referencing of differentially transcribed genes in the different assays revealed that drip-flow biofilms shared few differentially expressed genes with static biofilms (4 h or 6 h) but shared several differentially expressed genes with natural or experimental infections in pigs.


The formation of a static biofilm by A. pleuropneumoniae strain S4074 is a rapid process and transcriptional analysis indicated that dispersal observed at 6 h is driven by nutritional stresses. Furthermore, A. pleuropneumoniae can form a biofilm under low-shear force in a drip-flow apparatus and analyses indicated that the formation of a biofilm under low-shear force requires a different sub-set of genes than a biofilm grown under static conditions. The drip-flow apparatus may represent the better in vitro model to investigate biofilm formation of A. pleuropneumoniae.

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae; Biofilm; Transcriptome; Drip-flow apparatus