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Bacillaene and sporulation protect Bacillus subtilis from predation by Myxococcus xanthus. Appl Environ Microbiol 2014 Sep;80(18):5603-10



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84906330901   46 Citations


Myxococcus xanthus and Bacillus subtilis are common soil-dwelling bacteria that produce a wide range of secondary metabolites and sporulate under nutrient-limiting conditions. Both organisms affect the composition and dynamics of microbial communities in the soil. However, M. xanthus is known to be a predator, while B. subtilis is not. A screen of various prey led to the finding that M. xanthus is capable of consuming laboratory strains of B. subtilis, while the ancestral strain, NCIB3610, was resistant to predation. Based in part on recent characterization of several strains of B. subtilis, we were able to determine that the pks gene cluster, which is required for production of bacillaene, is the major factor allowing B. subtilis NCIB3610 cells to resist predation by M. xanthus. Furthermore, purified bacillaene was added exogenously to domesticated strains, resulting in resistance to predation. Lastly, we found that M. xanthus is incapable of consuming B. subtilis spores even from laboratory strains, indicating the evolutionary fitness of sporulation as a survival strategy. Together, the results suggest that bacillaene inhibits M. xanthus predation, allowing sufficient time for development of B. subtilis spores.

Author List

Müller S, Strack SN, Hoefler BC, Straight PD, Kearns DB, Kirby JR


John Kirby PhD Chair, Center Associate Director, Professor in the Microbiology and Immunology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Anti-Infective Agents
Bacillus subtilis
Microbial Viability
Myxococcus xanthus
Spores, Bacterial
jenkins-FCD Prod-486 e3098984f26de787f5ecab75090d0a28e7f4f7c0