Myxobacteria are able to prey broadly upon clinically-relevant pathogens, exhibiting a prey range which cannot be explained by phylogeny

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Abstract

Myxobacteria are natural predators of microorganisms and the subjects of concerted efforts to identify novel antimicrobial compounds. Myxobacterial predatory activity seems to require more than just the possession of specific antimicrobial metabolites. Thus a holistic approach to studying predation promises novel insights into antimicrobial action. Here we report the isolation of 113 myxobacteria from samples of soil taken from a range of habitats in mid Wales. Predatory activity of each isolate was quantified against a panel of clinically important prey organisms, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Candida albicans, Enterococcus faecalis, and three species of Staphylococcus. Myxobacterial isolates exhibited a wide range of predation activity profiles against the panel of prey. Efficient predation of all prey by isolates within the collection was observed, with K. pneumoniae and C. albicans proving particularly susceptible to myxobacterial predation. Notably efficient predators tended to be proficient at predating multiple prey organisms, suggesting they possess gene(s) encoding a broad range killing activity. However, predatory activity was not congruent with phylogeny, suggesting prey range is subject to rapid specialisation and/or lateral gene transfer. The broad but patchy prey ranges observed for natural myxobacterial isolates also implies multiple (potentially overlapping) genetic determinants are responsible for dictating predatory activity

Keywords

  • microbial predation, isolation, myxobacteria, Prey range, pathogen