ABSTRACT Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic human pathogen important to diseases such as cystic fibrosis. P. aeruginosa has multiple quorum-sensing (QS) systems, one of which utilizes the signaling molecule 2-heptyl-3-hydroxy-4- quinolone (Pseudomonas quinolone signal [PQS]). Here, we use hyperspectral Raman imaging to elucidate the spatiotemporal PQS distributions that determine how P. aeruginosa regulates surface colonization and its response to both metabolic stress and competition from other bacterial strains. These chemical imaging experiments illustrate the strong link between environmental challenges, such as metabolic stress caused by nutritional limitations or the presence of another bacterial species, and PQS signaling. Metabolic stress elicits a complex response in which limited nutrients induce the bacteria to produce PQS earlier, but the bacteria may also pause PQS production entirely if the nutrient concentration is too low. Separately, coculturing P. aeruginosa in the proximity of another bacterial species, or its culture supernatant, results in earlier production of PQS. However, these differences in PQS appearance are not observed for all alkyl quinolones (AQs) measured; the spatiotemporal response of 2-heptyl-4-hydroxyquinoline N-oxide (HQNO) is highly uniform for most conditions. These insights on the spatiotemporal distributions of quinolones provide additional perspective on the behavior of P. aeruginosa in response to different environmental cues.
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