Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Microbiology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Life without a cell membrane: Challenging the specificity of bacterial endophytes within Bryopsis (Bryopsidales, Chlorophyta)

Joke Hollants12*, Helen Decleyre1, Frederik Leliaert2, Olivier De Clerck2 and Anne Willems1

Author affiliations

1 Laboratory of Microbiology, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

2 Phycology Research Group, Department of Biology, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281 (S8), 9000 Ghent, Belgium

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:255  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-255

Published: 21 November 2011

Abstract

Background

The siphonous green macroalga Bryopsis has some remarkable characteristics. Besides hosting a rich endophytic bacterial flora, Bryopsis also displays extraordinary wound repair and propagation mechanisms. This latter feature includes the formation of protoplasts which can survive in the absence of a cell membrane for several minutes before regenerating into new individuals. This transient 'life without a membrane' state, however, challenges the specificity of the endophytic bacterial communities present and raises the question whether these bacteria are generalists, which are repeatedly acquired from the environment, or if there is some specificity towards the Bryopsis host.

Results

To answer this question, we examined the temporal stability and the uniqueness of endobiotic bacterial communities within Bryopsis samples from the Mexican west coast after prolonged cultivation. DGGE analysis revealed that Bryopsis endophytic bacterial communities are rather stable and clearly distinct from the epiphytic and surrounding cultivation water bacterial communities. Although these endogenous communities consist of both facultative and obligate bacteria, results suggest that Bryopsis owns some intrinsic mechanisms to selectively maintain and/or attract specific bacteria after repeated wounding events in culture.

Conclusions

This suggests that Bryopsis algae seem to master transient stages of life without a cell membrane well as they harbor specific - and possibly ecological significant - endophytic bacteria.