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Characterization of the Fusarium circinatum biofilm environmental response role
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  • Francinah Ratsoma,
  • Nthabiseng Mokoena,
  • Quentin Santana,
  • Brenda Wingfield,
  • Emma Steenkamp,
  • Thabiso Motaung
Francinah Ratsoma
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Nthabiseng Mokoena
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Quentin Santana
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Brenda Wingfield
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Emma Steenkamp
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Thabiso Motaung
University of Pretoria Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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The capacity to form biofilms is a common trait among many microorganisms present on Earth. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that the fatal pine pitch canker agent, Fusarium circinatum, can lead a biofilm-like lifestyle with aggregated hyphal bundles wrapped in extracellular matrix (ECM). Our study suggests that F. circinatum biofilms respond to a changing environment, demonstrated by poor and optimal biofilm development under particular abiotic conditions, including temperature and pH. Further analysis revealed that while planktonic cells produced small amounts of ECM per unit of the biomass, heat- and azole-exposed biofilms produced significantly more ECM than non-exposed biofilms. The increased synthesis of ECM in biofilms due to these abiotic factors underscores biofilm importance in response to various stress conditions, demonstrating the adaptability of F. circinatum to changing environments. Interestingly, azole exposure also led to biofilms that were resistant to DNase, which typically uncouples biofilms by penetrating the biofilm and degrading its extracellular DNA; we propose that DNases were likely hindered from reaching target cells by the ECM barricade. The interplay between antifungal treatment and DNase enzyme suggests a complex relationship between eDNA, ECM, and antifungal agents in F. circinatum biofilms. Therefore, our results show how a phytopathogen’s sessile (biofilm) lifestyle could influence its response to the surrounding environment.
13 Sep 2023Submitted to Journal of Basic Microbiology
16 Sep 2023Submission Checks Completed
16 Sep 2023Assigned to Editor
16 Sep 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Sep 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
01 Nov 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
09 Nov 20231st Revision Received
12 Nov 2023Submission Checks Completed
12 Nov 2023Assigned to Editor
12 Nov 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
13 Nov 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned