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Summary

We used a combination of in silico and large-scale mutagenesis approaches to expand our current knowledge of the genetic determinants used by Pseudomonas putida KT2440 to attach to surfaces. We first identified in silico orthologues that have been annotated in Pseudomonas aeruginosa as potentially involved in attachment. In this search 67 paired-related genes of P. putida KT2440 and P. aeruginosa were identified as associated to adhesion. To test the potential role of the corresponding gene products in adhesion, 37 knockout mutants of KT2440, available in the Pseudomonas Reference Culture Collection, were analysed with regard to their ability to form biofilms in polystyrene microtitre plates; of these, six mutants were deficient in adhesion. Since mutants in all potential adhesion genes were not available, we generated a genome-wide collection of mutants made of 7684 independent mini-Tn5 insertions and tested them for the formation of biofilm on polystyrene microtitre plates. Eighteen clones that exhibited a reduction of at least twofold in biofilm biomass formation were considered candidate mutants in adhesion determinants. DNA sequencing of the insertion site identified five other new genes involved in adhesion. Phenotypic characterization of the mutants showed that 11 of the inactivated proteins were required for attachment to biotic surfaces too. This combined approach allowed us to identify new proteins with a role in P. putida adhesion, including the global regulator RpoN and GacS, PstS that corresponds to one of the paired-related genes for which a mutant was not available in the mutant collection, and a protein of unknown function (PP1633). The remaining mutants corresponded to functions known or predicted to participate in adhesion based on previous evidence, such as the large adhesion proteins LapA, LapF and flagellar proteins. In silico analysis showed this set of genes to be well conserved in all sequenced P. putida strains, and that at least eight reciprocal genes involved in attachment are shared by P. putida and P. aeruginosa.