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  • Thumbnail for The GASP phenotype in Acinetobacter baylyi
    The GASP phenotype in Acinetobacter baylyi by Krych, Leland William

    Competence for natural transformation is the physiological ability of bacteria to take up extracellular DNA. This ability is wielded by over 40 species of bacteria. We hypothesize that competence for natural transformation might be required for the GASP phenotype: a phenomenon by which cells grown to long term stationary phase can out-compete young cells co-incubated with them in stationary phase. In this experiment, we show for the first time that the soil bacteria Acinetobacter baylyi exhibits the GASP phenotype, and that knock out mutants of the gene comP which codes for a prepilin-like protein showed significantly reduced fitness levels during a GASP test when competed against young wild type cells. Knock out mutants of the gene comQ, which codes for a transmembrane protein, showed reduced fitness levels when competed against a young wild type strain in stationary phase but this difference was not significant. Defective GASP responses suggest that natural competence is important for cells to “age” (evolve) normally during long-term stationary phase.