Assessing adhesion, biofilm formation and motility of Acidovorax citrulli using microfluidic flow chambers
Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbits. We have shown previously that type IV pili (TFP) are required for wild-type levels of virulence of A. citrulli on melon and that this pathogen can colonize and move thorough the xylem vessels of host seedlings. Here, comparative studies between wild-type and TFP mutant strains using microfluidic flow chambers demonstrated that TFP play a critical role in both the surface attachment and the biofilm formation of A. citrulli under a medium flow. Additionally, TFP null mutants were unable to perform twitching movement against the direction of medium flow. Assays using a flagellin mutant showed that, in contrast to TFP, polar flagella do not contribute to the adhesion and biofilm formation of A. citrulli under tested conditions. Also, flagellum-mediated swimming motility of wild-type strains was not observed under medium flow. These results imply that TFP may play an important role in colonization and spread in the xylem vessels under sap flow conditions, while polar flagella could be more important for spread during periods of time when xylem flow is minimal.