Positive interactions are common among culturable bacteria
. SCIENCE ADVANCES 2021
Interspecies interactions shape the structure and function of microbial communities. In particular, positive, growth-promoting interactions can substantially affect the diversity and productivity of natural and engineered communities. However, the prevalence of positive interactions and the conditions in which they occur are not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we used kChip, an ultrahigh-throughput coculture platform, to measure 180,408 interactions among 20 soil bacteria across 40 carbon environments. We find that positive interactions, often described to be rare, occur commonly and primarily as parasitisms between strains that differ in their carbon consumption profiles. Notably, nongrowing strains are almost always promoted by strongly growing strains (85%), suggesting a simple positive interaction-mediated approach for cultivation, microbiome engineering, and microbial consortium design.
Community and single cell analyses reveal complex predatory interactions between bacteria in high diversity systems
. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 2021
Studying the role of predator-prey interactions in food-web stability and species coexistence in the environment is arduous. Here, Cohen et al. use a combination of community and single-cell analyses to show that bacterial predators can regulate prey populations in the species-rich environments of wastewater treatment plants. A fundamental question in community ecology is the role of predator-prey interactions in food-web stability and species coexistence. Although microbial microcosms offer powerful systems to investigate it, interrogating the environment is much more arduous. Here, we show in a 1-year survey that the obligate predators Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) can regulate prey populations, possibly in a density-dependent manner, in the naturally complex, species-rich environments of wastewater treatment plants. Abundant as well as rarer prey populations are affected, leading to an oscillating predatory landscape shifting at various temporal scales in which the total population remains stable. Shifts, along with differential prey range, explain co-existence of the numerous predators through niche partitioning. We validate these sequence-based findings using single-cell sorting combined with fluorescent hybridization and community sequencing. Our approach should be applicable for deciphering community interactions in other systems.
Effects of subinhibitory quinolone concentrations on functionality, microbial community composition, and abundance of antibiotic resistant bacteria and qnrS in activated sludge
. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICAL ENGINEERING 2021
Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are continuously exposed to sub-inhibitory concentrations of antibiotics that are thought to contribute to the spreading of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes, which are eventually released to downstream environments through effluents. In order to understand the effects of sub-inhibitory concentrations of antibiotics on sludge microbiome and resistome, we spiked a conventional activated sludge (CAS) model system with ciprofloxacin, a common fluoroquinolone antibiotic, from 0.0001 mg/L (about twice the typical ciprofloxacin concentration observed in municipal wastewater) up to 0.1 mg/L (one order of magnitude below the clinical MIC for Enterobacteriaceae) for 151 days. The abundance of ciprofloxacin resistant bacteria and qnrS, a plasmid-associated gene that confers resistance to quinolones, in activated sludge and in effluents of control and spiked CAS reactors, showed no measurable effect of the antibiotic amendment. This was also true for the bacterial community structure and for indicators of WW treatment such as N removal efficiency. Surprisingly, temporal fluctuations in both reactors could explain the observed internal variability of these antibiotic resistance determinants better than the hypothesized antibiotic-driven selective pressure. Overall, this work shows that the core sludge microbiome in CAS systems is resilient to sub-inhibitory concentrations of ciprofloxacin at a functional, structural, and antibiotic resistance levels.
Hidden Resistome: Enrichment Reveals the Presence of Clinically Relevant Antibiotic Resistance Determinants in Treated Wastewater-Irrigated Soils
. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 2021
Treated-wastewater (TW) irrigation transfers antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) to soil, but persistence of these bacteria is generally low due to resilience of the soil microbiome. Nonetheless, wastewater-derived bacteria and associated antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) may persist below detection levels and potentially proliferate under copiotrophic conditions. To test this hypothesis, we exposed soils from microcosm, lysimeter, and field experiments to short-term enrichment in copiotroph-stimulating media. In microcosms, enrichment stimulated growth of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli up to 2 weeks after falling below detection limits. Lysimeter and orchard soils irrigated in-tandem with either freshwater or TW were subjected to culture-based, qPCR and shotgun metagenomic analyses prior, and subsequent, to enrichment. Although native TW- and freshwater-irrigated soil microbiomes and resistomes were similar to each other, enrichment resulted in higher abundances of cephalosporin- and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and in substantial differences in the composition of microbial communities and ARGs. Enrichment stimulated ARG-harboring Bacillaceae in the freshwater-irrigated soils, whereas in TWW-irrigated soils, ARG-harboring.-proteobacterial families Enterobacteriaceae and Moraxellaceae were more profuse. We demonstrate that TW-derived ARB and associated ARGs can persist at below detection levels in irrigated soils and believe that similar short-term enrichment strategies can be applied for environmental antimicrobial risk assessment in the future.
Positive interactions within and between populations decrease the likelihood of evolutionary rescue
. PLOS COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY 2021
Positive interactions, including intraspecies cooperation and interspecies mutualisms, play crucial roles in shaping the structure and function of many ecosystems, ranging from plant communities to the human microbiome. While the evolutionary forces that form and maintain positive interactions have been investigated extensively, the influence of positive interactions on the ability of species to adapt to new environments is still poorly understood. Here, we use numerical simulations and theoretical analyses to study how positive interactions impact the likelihood that populations survive after an environment deteriorates, such that survival in the new environment requires quick adaptation via the rise of new mutants-a scenario known as evolutionary rescue. We find that the probability of evolutionary rescue in populations engaged in positive interactions is reduced significantly. In cooperating populations, this reduction is largely due to the fact that survival may require at least a minimal number of individuals, meaning that adapted mutants must arise and spread before the population declines below this threshold. In mutualistic populations, the rescue probability is decreased further due to two additional effects-the need for both mutualistic partners to adapt to the new environment, and competition between the two species. Finally, we show that the presence of cheaters reduces the likelihood of evolutionary rescue even further, making it extremely unlikely. These results indicate that while positive interactions may be beneficial in stable environments, they can hinder adaptation to changing environments and thereby elevate the risk of population collapse. Furthermore, these results may hint at the selective pressures that drove co-dependent unicellular species to form more adaptable organisms able to differentiate into multiple phenotypes, including multicellular life. Author summary Many ecosystems are exposed to rapidly changing environmental conditions, from global warming to overuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture. Therefore, there is great interest in elucidating the factors that affect the ability of ecosystems to adapt to these changes. While many such factors have been recently investigated, the effect of interactions within a community on its ability to adapt remain largely unexplored. In this work, we focus on the effect of positive interactions, in the form of cooperation between individual or different species, on the ability of communities to adapt to new environments. Using simulations and theoretical analysis, we find that positive interactions significantly reduce the probability of survival of cooperative communities in changing environments, elevating the risk of populations' extinction. Furthermore, we suggest that the need for an adaptable solution of cooperation could have played a part in the circumstances leading to the transition between unicellular and multicellular life.
Sex-Dependent Effects of the Microbiome on Foraging and Locomotion in Drosophila suzukii
. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY 2021
There is growing evidence that symbiotic microbes can influence multiple nutrition-related behaviors of their hosts, including locomotion, feeding, and foraging. However, how the microbiome affects nutrition-related behavior is largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate clear sexual dimorphism in how the microbiome affects foraging behavior of a frugivorous fruit fly, Drosophila suzukii. Female flies deprived of their microbiome (axenic) were consistently less active in foraging on fruits than their conventional counterparts, even though they were more susceptible to starvation and starvation-induced locomotion was notably more elevated in axenic than conventional females. Such behavioral change was not observed in male flies. The lag of axenic female flies but not male flies to forage on fruits is associated with lower oviposition by axenic flies, and mirrored by reduced food seeking observed in virgin females when compared to mated, gravid females. In contrast to foraging intensity being highly dependent on the microbiome, conventional and axenic flies of both sexes showed relatively consistent and similar fruit preferences in foraging and oviposition, with raspberries being preferred among the fruits tested. Collectively, this work highlights a clear sex-specific effect of the microbiome on foraging and locomotion behaviors in flies, an important first step toward identifying specific mechanisms that may drive the modulation of insect behavior by interactions between the host, the microbiome, and food.
To hunt or to rest: prey depletion induces a novel starvation survival strategy in bacterial predators
. ISME JOURNAL 2021
The small size of bacterial cells necessitates rapid adaption to sudden environmental changes. InBdellovibrio bacteriovorus, an obligate predator of bacteria common in oligotrophic environments, the non-replicative, highly motile attack phase (AP) cell must invade a prey to ensure replication. AP cells swim fast and respire at high rates, rapidly consuming their own contents. How the predator survives in the absence of prey is unknown. We show that starvation for prey significantly alters swimming patterns and causes exponential decay in prey-searching cells over hours, until population-wide swim-arrest. Swim-arrest is accompanied by changes in energy metabolism, enabling rapid swim-reactivation upon introduction of prey or nutrients, and a sweeping change in gene expression and gene regulation that largely differs from those of the paradigmatic stationary phase. Swim-arrest is costly as it imposes a fitness penalty in the form of delayed growth. We track the control of the swim arrest-reactivation process to cyclic-di-GMP (CdG) effectors, including two motility brakes. CRISPRi transcriptional inactivation, and in situ localization of the brakes to the cell pole, demonstrated their essential role for effective survival under prey-induced starvation. Thus, obligate predators evolved a unique CdG-controlled survival strategy, enabling them to sustain their uncommon lifestyle under fluctuating prey supply.
Effects of the prey landscape on the fitness of the bacterial predators Bdellovibrio and like organisms
. FEMS MICROBIOLOGY ECOLOGY 2021
Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are obligate predatory bacteria commonly encountered in the environment. In dual predator-prey cultures, prey accessibility ensures optimal feeding and replication and rapid BALO population growth. However, the environmental prey landscape is complex, as it also incorporates non-prey cells and other particles. These may act as decoys, generating unproductive encounters which in turn may affect both predator and prey population dynamics. In this study, we hypothesized that increasing decoy:prey ratios would bring about increasing costs on the predator's reproductive fitness. We also tested the hypothesis that different BALOs and decoys would have different effects. To this end, we constructed prey landscapes including petiplasmic or epibiotic predators including two types of decoy under a large range of initial decoy:prey ratio, and mixed cultures containing multiple predators and prey. We show that as decoy:prey ratios increase, the maximal predator population sizes is reduced and the time to reach it significantly increases. We found that BALOs spent less time handling non-prey (including superinfection-immune invaded prey) than prey cells, and did not differentiate between efficient and less efficient prey. This may explain why in multiple predator and prey cultures, less preferred prey appear to act as decoy.
Elevated CO2 and nitrate levels increase wheat root-associated bacterial abundance and impact rhizosphere microbial community composition and function
. ISME JOURNAL 2021
Elevated CO2 stimulates plant growth and affects quantity and composition of root exudates, followed by response of its microbiome. Three scenarios representing nitrate fertilization regimes: limited (30 ppm), moderate (70 ppm) and excess nitrate (100 ppm) were compared under ambient and elevated CO2 (eCO(2), 850 ppm) to elucidate their combined effects on root-surface-associated bacterial community abundance, structure and function. Wheat root-surface-associated microbiome structure and function, as well as soil and plant properties, were highly influenced by interactions between CO2 and nitrate levels. Relative abundance of total bacteria per plant increased at eCO(2) under excess nitrate. Elevated CO2 significantly influenced the abundance of genes encoding enzymes, transporters and secretion systems. Proteobacteria, the largest taxonomic group in wheat roots (similar to 75%), is the most influenced group by eCO(2) under all nitrate levels. Rhizobiales, Burkholderiales and Pseudomonadales are responsible for most of these functional changes. A correlation was observed among the five gene-groups whose abundance was significantly changed (secretion systems, particularly type VI secretion system, biofilm formation, pyruvate, fructose and mannose metabolism). These changes in bacterial abundance and gene functions may be the result of alteration in root exudation at eCO(2), leading to changes in bacteria colonization patterns and influencing their fitness and proliferation.
In vivo predation and modification of the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) gut microbiome by the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus
. JOURNAL OF APPLIED MICROBIOLOGY 2021
Aims The Mediterranean fruit fly (the medfly) causes major losses of agricultural fruits. Its microbiome is mainly composed of various Enterobacteriaceae that contribute to nutrient acquisition and are associated with the fly's development. Moreover, the performance of males produced by the sterile insect technique is improved by providing mass-reared insects with specific gut bacteria. Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are obligate predators of Gram-negative bacteria that efficiently preys upon diverse Enterobacteriaceae, making it a potential disruptor of the fly's microbiome. We hypothesized that the fly's microbiome can be targeted to control the insect. Methods and Results Inoculation of B. bacteriovorus as free-swimming or encapsulated cells into gut extracts significantly reduced gut bacterial abundance, sustaining predator survival. Similar treatments applied to adult flies showed that the predators also survived in the gut environment. While addition of the predators did not affect total gut bacterial abundance and end-point fly mortality, a shift in the gut community structure, measured by high-throughput community sequencing was observed. Conclusions The bacterial predator of bacteria B. bacteriovorus can prey and survive in vivo in the medfly gut. Significance and Impact of the Study This study establishes the potential of BALOs to affect the microbiome of insect hosts.
Interactions between Bdellovibrio and like organisms and bacteria in biofilms: beyond predator-prey dynamics
. ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY 2021
Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) prey on Gram-negative bacteria in the planktonic phase as well as in biofilms, with the ability to reduce prey populations by orders of magnitude. During the last few years, evidence has mounted for a significant ecological role for BALOs, with important implications for our understanding of microbial community dynamics as well as for applications against pathogens, including drug-resistant pathogens, in medicine, agriculture and aquaculture, and in industrial settings for various uses. However, our understanding of biofilm predation by BALOs is still very fragmentary, including gaps in their effect on biofilm structure, on prey resistance, and on evolutionary outcomes of both predators and prey. Furthermore, their impact on biofilms has been shown to reach beyond predation, as they are reported to reduce biofilm structures of non-prey cells (including Gram-positive bacteria). Here, we review the available literature on BALOs in biofilms, extending known aspects to potential mechanisms employed by the predators to grow in biofilms. Within that context, we discuss the potential ecological significance and potential future utilization of the predatory and enzymatic possibilities offered by BALOs in medical, agricultural and environmental applications.
Shifting microbiomes complement life stage transitions and diet of the bird parasite Philornis downsi from the Galapagos Islands
. ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY 2021
Domestication disconnects an animal from its natural environment and diet, imposing changes in the attendant microbial community. We examine these changes in Philornis downsi (Muscidae), an invasive parasitic fly of land birds in the Galapagos Islands. Using a 16S rDNA profiling approach we studied the microbiome of larvae and adults of wild and laboratory-reared populations. These populations diverged in their microbiomes, significantly more so in larval than in adult flies. In field-collected second-instar larvae, Klebsiella (70.3%) was the most abundant taxon, while in the laboratory Ignatzschineria and Providencia made up 89.2% of the community. In adults, Gilliamella and Dysgonomonas were key members of the core microbiome of field-derived females and males but had no or very low representation in the laboratory. Adult flies harbour sex-specific microbial consortia in their gut, as male core microbiomes were significantly dominated by Klebsiella. Thus, P. downsi microbiomes are dynamic and shift correspondingly with life cycle and diet. Sex-specific foraging behaviour of adult flies and nest conditions, which are absent in the laboratory, may contribute to shaping distinct larval, and adult male and female microbiomes. We discuss these findings in the context of microbe-host co-evolution and the implications for control measures.
Spike Formation Is a Turning Point Determining Wheat Root Microbiome Abundance, Structures and Functions
. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 2021
Root selection of their associated microbiome composition and activities is determined by the plant's developmental stage and distance from the root. Total gene abundance, structure and functions of root-associated and rhizospheric microbiomes were studied throughout wheat growth season under field conditions. On the root surface, abundance of the well-known wheat colonizers Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria decreased and increased, respectively, during spike formation, whereas abundance of Bacteroidetes was independent of spike formation. Metagenomic analysis combined with functional co-occurrence networks revealed a significant impact of plant developmental stage on its microbiome during the transition from vegetative growth to spike formation. For example, gene functions related to biofilm and sensorial movement, antibiotic production and resistance and carbons and amino acids and their transporters. Genes associated with these functions were also in higher abundance in root vs. the rhizosphere microbiome. We propose that abundance of transporter-encoding genes related to carbon and amino acid, may mirror the availability and utilization of root exudates. Genes related to antibiotic resistance mechanisms were abundant during vegetative growth, while after spike formation, genes related to the biosynthesis of various antibiotics were enriched. This observation suggests that during root colonization and biofilm formation, bacteria cope with competitor's antibiotics, whereas in the mature biofilm stage, they invest in inhibiting new colonizers. Additionally, there is higher abundance of genes related to denitrification in rhizosphere compared to root-associated microbiome during wheat growth, possibly due to competition with the plant over nitrogen in the root vicinity. We demonstrated functional and phylogenetic division in wheat root zone microbiome in both time and space: pre- and post-spike formation, and root-associated vs. rhizospheric niches. These findings shed light on the dynamics of plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions in the developing root zone.
A walk on the dirt: soil microbial forensics from ecological theory to the crime lab
. FEMS MICROBIOLOGY REVIEWS 2021
Forensics aims at using physical evidence to solve investigations with science-based principles, thus operating within a theoretical framework. This however is often rather weak, the exception being DNA-based human forensics that is well anchored in theory. Soil is a most commonly encountered, easily and unknowingly transferred evidence but it is seldom employed as soil analyses require extensive expertise. In contrast, comparative analyses of soil bacterial communities using nucleic acid technologies can efficiently and precisely locate the origin of forensic soil traces. However, this application is still in its infancy, and is very rarely used. We posit that understanding the theoretical bases and limitations of their uses is essential for soil microbial forensics to be judiciously implemented. Accordingly, we review the ecological theory and experimental evidence explaining differences between soil microbial communities, i.e. the generation of beta diversity, and propose to integrate a bottom-up approach of interactions at the microscale, reflecting historical contingencies with top-down mechanisms driven by the geographic template, providing a potential explanation as to why bacterial communities map according to soil types. Finally, we delimit the use of soil microbial forensics based on the present technologies and ecological knowledge, and propose possible venues to remove existing bottlenecks.
Adaptive Resistance Mutations at Suprainhibitory Concentrations Independent of SOS Mutagenesis
. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 2021
Emergence of resistant bacteria during antimicrobial treatment is one of the most critical and universal health threats. It is known that several stress-induced mutagenesis and heteroresistance mechanisms can enhance microbial adaptation to antibiotics. Here, we demonstrate that the pathogen Bartonella can undergo stress-induced mutagenesis despite the fact it lacks error-prone polymerases, the rpoS gene and functional UV-induced mutagenesis. We demonstrate that Bartonella acquire de novo single mutations during rifampicin exposure at suprainhibitory concentrations at a much higher rate than expected from spontaneous fluctuations. This is while exhibiting a minimal heteroresistance capacity. The emerged resistant mutants acquired a single rpoB mutation, whereas no other mutations were found in their whole genome. Interestingly, the emergence of resistance in Bartonella occurred only during gradual exposure to the antibiotic, indicating that Bartonella sense and react to the changing environment. Using a mathematical model, we demonstrated that, to reproduce the experimental results, mutation rates should be transiently increased over 1,000-folds, and a larger population size or greater heteroresistance capacity is required. RNA expression analysis suggests that the increased mutation rate is due to downregulation of key DNA repair genes (mutS, mutY, and recA), associated with DNA breaks caused by massive prophage inductions. These results provide new evidence of the hazard of antibiotic overuse in medicine and agriculture.
Bacterial-induced pH shifts link individual cell physiology to macroscale collective behavior
. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 2021
Bacteria have evolved a diverse array of signaling pathways that enable them to quickly respond to environmental changes. Understanding how these pathways reflect environmental conditions and produce an orchestrated response is an ongoing challenge. Herein, we present a role for collective modifications of environmental pH carried out by microbial colonies living on a surface. We show that by collectively adjusting the local pH value, Paenibacillus spp., specifically, regulate their swarming motility. Moreover, we show that such pH-dependent regulation can converge with the carbon repression pathway to down-regulate flagellin expression and inhibit swarming in the presence of glucose. Interestingly, our results demonstrate that the observed glucose-dependent swarming repression is not mediated by the glucose molecule per se, as commonly thought to occur in carbon repression pathways, but rather is governed by a decrease in pH due to glucose metabolism. In fact, modification of the environmental pH by neighboring bacterial species could override this glucose-dependent repression and induce swarming of Paenibacillus spp. away from a glucose-rich area. Our results suggest that bacteria can use local pH modulations to reflect nutrient availability and link individual bacterial physiology to macroscale collective behavior.
The Culturable Mycobiome of Mesophotic Agelas oroides: Constituents and Changes Following Sponge Transplantation to Shallow Water
. JOURNAL OF FUNGI 2021
Marine sponges harbor a diverse array of microorganisms and the composition of the microbial community has been suggested to be linked to holo-biont health. Most of the attention concerning sponge mycobiomes has been given to sponges present in shallow depths. Here, we describe the presence of 146 culturable mycobiome taxa isolated from mesophotic niche (100 m depth)-inhabiting samples of Agelas oroides, in the Mediterranean Sea. We identify some potential in vitro interactions between several A. oroides-associated fungi and show that sponge meso-hyl extract, but not its predominantly collagen-rich part, is sufficient to support hyphal growth. We demonstrate that changes in the diversity of culturable mycobiome constituents occur following sponge transplantation from its original mesophotic habitat to shallow (10 m) waters, where historically (60 years ago) this species was found. We conclude that among the 30 fungal genera identified as associated with A. oroides, Aspergillus, Penicillium and Trichoderma constitute the core mycobiome of A. oroides, and that they persist even when the sponge is transplanted to a suboptimal environment, indicative of the presence of constant, as well as dynamic, components of the sponge mycobiome. Other genera seemed more depth-related and appeared or disappeared upon host's transfer from 100 to 10 m.
Detailed analysis of the fatty acid composition of six plant-pathogenic bacteria
. JOURNAL OF CHROMATOGRAPHY B-ANALYTICAL TECHNOLOGIES IN THE BIOMEDICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES 2021
Bacteria show distinct and characteristic fatty acid (FA) patterns which can be modified by environmental conditions. In this study, we cultivated six plant-pathogenic bacteria of agricultural concern and performed a detailed analysis of the fatty acid composition. The study covered four strains of the gram-negative Xanthomonas campestris pathovar (pv) campestris (Xcc), Xanthomonas perforans (Xp), Acidovorax citrulli (Ac) and Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pst), and two strains of the gram-positive Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (Cmm) and Streptomyces scabies (Ssc). After cultivation, freeze-dried bacteria samples were transesterified and analysed by gas chromatography with mass spectrometry in full scan and selected ion monitoring (SIM) modes. Altogether, 44 different FAs were detected in the six strains with individual contributions of 0.01-43.8% to the total FAs. The variety in the six strains ranged between 12 and 31 individual FAs. The FA composition of Xcc, Xp, Cmm and Ssc were dominated by iso- and anteiso-fatty acids (especially i15:0, a15:0, i16:0), which is typical for most bacteria. In contrast to this, Ac and Pst showed only saturated and monounsaturated FAs. Four of the six bacteria showed similar FA patterns as reported before in the literature. Differences were observed in the case of Cmm where many more FAs were detected in the present study. In addition, to the best of our knowledge, the FA pattern of Xp was presented for the first time.
Life in a Droplet: Microbial Ecology in Microscopic Surface Wetness
. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY 2021
While many natural and artificial surfaces may appear dry, they are in fact covered by thin liquid films and microdroplets invisible to the naked eye known as microscopic surface wetness (MSW). Central to the formation and the retention of MSW are the deliquescent properties of hygroscopic salts that prevent complete drying of wet surfaces or that drive the absorption of water until dissolution when the relative humidity is above a salt-specific level. As salts are ubiquitous, MSW occurs in many microbial habitats, such as soil, rocks, plant leaf, and root surfaces, the built environment, and human and animal skin. While key properties of MSW, including very high salinity and segregation into droplets, greatly affect microbial life therein, it has been scarcely studied, and systematic studies are only in their beginnings. Based on recent findings, we propose that the harsh micro-environment that MSW imposes, which is very different from bulk liquid, affects key aspects of bacterial ecology including survival traits, antibiotic response, competition, motility, communication, and exchange of genetic material. Further research is required to uncover the fundamental principles that govern microbial life and ecology in MSW. Such research will require multidisciplinary science cutting across biology, physics, and chemistry, while incorporating approaches from microbiology, genomics, microscopy, and computational modeling. The results of such research will be critical to understand microbial ecology in vast terrestrial habitats, affecting global biogeochemical cycles, as well as plant, animal, and human health.
Secretion-Based Modes of Action of Biocontrol Agents with a Focus on Pseudozyma aphidis
. PLANTS-BASEL 2021
Plant pathogens challenge our efforts to maximize crop production due to their ability to rapidly develop resistance to pesticides. Fungal biocontrol agents have become an important alternative to chemical fungicides, due to environmental concerns related to the latter. Here we review the complex modes of action of biocontrol agents in general and epiphytic yeasts belonging to the genus Pseudozyma specifically and P. aphidis in particular. Biocontrol agents act through multiple direct and indirect mechanisms, which are mainly based on their secretions. We discuss the direct modes of action, such as antibiosis, reactive oxygen species-producing, and cell wall-degrading enzyme secretions which can also play a role in mycoparasitism. In addition, we discuss indirect modes of action, such as hyperbiotrophy, induced resistance and growth promotion based on the secretion of effectors and elicitors from the biocontrol agent. Due to their unique characteristics, epiphytic yeasts hold great potential for use as biocontrol agents, which may be more environmentally friendly than conventional pesticides and provide a way to reduce our dependency on fungicides based on increasingly expensive fossil fuels. No less important, the complex mode of action of Pseudozyma-based biocontrol agents can also reduce the frequency of resistance developed by pathogens to these agents.