Biofilms form in a variety of host sites following infection with many bacterial species. However, the study of biofilms in a host is hindered due to the lack of protocols for the proper experimental investigation of biofilms in vivo. Histophilus somni is an agent of respiratory and systemic diseases in bovines, and readily forms biofilms in vitro. In the present study the capability of H. somni to form biofilms in cardiopulmonary tissue following experimental respiratory infection in the bovine host was examined by light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, immunoelectron microscopy of ultrathin cryosections, scanning electron microscopy of freeze-fractured samples, and fluorescent in situ hybridization. Biofilms were evident and most prominent in the myocardium, and were associated with a large amount of amorphous extracellular material. Furthermore, Pasteurella multocida was often cultured with H. somni from heart and lung samples. Transposon mutagenesis of H. somni strain 2336 resulted in the generation of mutants that expressed more or less biofilm. than the parent strain. Six mutants deficient in biofilm formation had an insertion in the gene encoding for a homolog of filamentous haemagglutinin (FHA), predicted to be involved in attachment. Thus, this investigation demonstrated that H. somni is capable of forming a biofilm in its natural host, that such a biofilm may be capable of harboring other bovine respiratory disease pathogens, and that the genes responsible for biofilm formation can be identified by transposon mutagenesis.
- Systemic infection
- Histophilus somni (Haemophilus somnus)
- Fluorescent in situ hybridization
- Electron microscopy