To investigate the role of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in virulence against the silkworm, Bombyx mori, mutants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 lacking manganese-SOD (PO1sodM), iron-SOD (PO1sodB), or both (PAO1sodMB) were generated. The mutants were injected into the hemocoel of B. mori. The virulence decreased in the order PAO1 = PAO1sodM > PAO1sodB > PAO1sodMB. In particular, PAO1sodMB was avirulent at a dose of 105 cells or less. The sod double mutant PAO1sodMB was then complemented with either pSodM or pSodB in trans. In both the complemented strains, the virulence was partially restored. Of the two plasmids, pSodB contributed more to the virulence of P. aeruginosa against B. mori. The results of growth in B. mori hemolymph broth and microscopic analysis suggested that a longer lag phase and superoxide sensitivity correlated with decreased virulence in sod mutants. In conclusion, the SODs are required for full virulence of P. aeruginosa against B. mori and Fe-SOD is more important than Mn-SOD in the infection process.
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