Type IV pili have been shown to play a role in the early stages of bacterial biofilm formation, but not in initial bacterial attachment. Here, using the surface analytical technique, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), we follow the attachment of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in real time. In contrast to previous studies., we show that type IV pili mutants are defective in attachment. Both mutants lacking pili (pilA), and those possessing an overabundance of pili (pilT), showed reduced SPR measured attachment compared with the wild-type PAO1 strain. Both pil mutants also showed reduced pathogenicity in a model insect host, as measured by percentage mortality after 24 h. SPR revealed differences in the kinetics of attachment between pilA and pilT; differences obscured by end-point assays using crystal violet stain. These results highlight the power of SPR in monitoring bacterial attachment in real time and also demonstrate an additional role for type IV pili beyond bacterial aggregation and micro-colony formation.
Jenkins, A. T. A., Buckling, A., McGhee, M., & Ffrench-Constant, R. H. (2005). Surface plasmon resonance shows that type IV pili are important in surface attachment by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 2(3), 255-259. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2005.0030