Exploring Bacillus thuringiensis as a model for endospore adhesion and its potential to investigate adhesins in Pasteuria penetrans

Arohi Srivastava, Sharad Mohan, Keith Davies

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Aims: Phytonematodes are a constraint on crop production and have been controlled using nematicides; these are highly toxic and legislation in Europe and elsewhere is prohibiting their use and alternatives are being sought. Pasteuria penetrans is a hyperparasitic bacterium that form endospores and have potential to control root‐knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.), but their attachment to the nematode cuticle is host‐specific. Understanding host specificity has relied upon endospore inhibition bioassays using immunological and biochemical approaches. Phylogenetic analysis of survey sequences has shown P. penetrans to be closely related to Bacillus and to have a diverse range of collagen‐like fibres which we hypothesise to be involved in the endospore adhesion. However, due to the obligately hyperparasitic nature of Pasteuria species, identifying and characterizing these collagenous‐like proteins through gain of function has proved difficult and new approaches are required. 
Methods and Results: Using antibodies raised to synthetic peptides based on Pasteuria collagen‐like genes we show similarities between P. penetrans and the more easily cultured bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis and suggest it be used as a gain of function platform/model. Using immunological approaches similar proteins between P. penetrans and B. thuringiensis are identified and characterized, one >250 kDa and another ~72 kDa are glycosylated with N‐acetylglucosamine and both of which are digested if treated with collagenase. These treatments also affected endospore attachment and suggest these proteins are involved in adhesion of endospores to nematode cuticle. 
Conclusion: There are conserved similarities in the collagen‐like proteins present on the surface of endospores of both P. penetrans and B. thuringiensis. Significance and Impact of Study: As B. thuringiensis is relatively easy to culture and can be transformed, it could be developed as a platform for studying the role of the collagen‐like adhesins from Pasteuria in endospore adhesion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4371-4387
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number6
Early online date22 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • biological control
  • collagen‐like proteins
  • crop protection
  • glycosylation
  • host specificity
  • immunofluorescence
  • Meloidogyne
  • Western blot analysis


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