Orchestrated Response of Intracellular Zwitterionic Metabolites in Stress Adaptation of the Halophilic Heterotrophic Bacterium Pelagibaca bermudensis
Osmolytes are naturally occurring organic compounds that protect cells against various forms of stress. Highly polar, zwitterionic osmolytes are often used by marine algae and bacteria to counteract salinity or temperature stress. We investigated the effect of several stress conditions including different salinities, temperatures, and exposure to organic metabolites released by the alga Tetraselmis striata on the halophilic heterotrophic bacterium Pelagibaca bermudensis . Using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) on a ZIC-HILIC column and high-resolution electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, we simultaneously detected and quantified the eleven highly polar compounds dimethylsulfoxonium propionate (DMSOP), dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), gonyol, cysteinolic acid, ectoine, glycine betaine (GBT), carnitine, sarcosine, choline, proline, and 4-hydroxyproline. All compounds are newly described in P. bermudensis and potentially involved in physiological functions essential for bacterial survival under variable environmental conditions. We report that adaptation to various forms of stress is accomplished by adjusting the pattern and amount of the zwitterionic metabolites.