Microbiology

Bacterial explorers move fast

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
541,
Page:
136
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/541136a
Published online

Bacteria that were long thought to be stationary are capable of rapid movement across surfaces when grown alongside yeast.

Jones et al./CC BY 4.0

Streptomyces bacteria are common in soil and generate many antibiotics. Marie Elliot at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and her colleagues cultured Streptomyces venezuelae along with baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) for 14 days. They found that the bacteria form non-branched filaments that spread over various surfaces (pictured) and obstacles. The 'explorer' cells released a volatile alkaline compound that stimulated physically separated Streptomyces to initiate exploration, and inhibited the growth of other bacteria.

This exploratory growth could be a way for the organisms to scavenge more nutrients, the authors say.

eLife 6, e21738 (2017)

Additional data