Influence of tick and mammalian physiological temperatures on Borrelia burgdorferi biofilms
Authors: Shafiq Shaikh1,†, Venkata Arun Timmaraju1,‡, Jason P. Torres1, Kayla M. Socarras1, Priyanka A. S. Theophilus1,§, Eva Sapi1
Microbiology, November 2016 162: 1984-1995, doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000380
Subject: Physiology and metabolism
Received: 18/04/2016 Accepted: 03/10/2016 Published Online: 23/11/2016
The spirochaete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato is the aetiologic agent of Lyme disease. Borrelia is transmitted to mammals through tick bite and is adapted to survive at tick and mammalian physiological temperatures. We have previously shown that B. burgdorferi can exist in different morphological forms, including the antibiotic-resistant biofilm form, in vitro and in vivo. B. burgdorferi forms aggregates in ticks as well as in humans, indicating potential of biofilm formation at both 23 and 37 °C. However, the role of various environmental factors that influence Borrelia biofilm formation remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the effect of tick (23 °C), mammalian physiological (37 °C) and standard in vitro culture (33 °C) temperatures with the objective of elucidating the effect of temperature on Borrelia biofilm phenotypes in vitro using two B. burgdorferi sensu stricto strains (B31 and 297). Our findings show increased biofilm quantity, biofilm size, exopolysaccharide content and enhanced adherence as well as reduced free spirochaetes at 37 °C for both strains, when compared to growth at 23 and 33 °C. There were no significant variations in the biofilm nano-topography and the type of extracellular polymeric substance in Borrelia biofilms formed at all three temperatures. Significant variations in extracellular DNA content were observed in the biofilms of both strains cultured at the three temperatures. Our results indicate that temperature is an important regulator of Borrelia biofilm development, and that the mammalian physiological temperature favours increased biofilm formation in vitro compared to tick physiological temperature and in vitro culture temperature.