The Genetics of Prey Susceptibility to Myxobacterial PredationA Review, including an Investigation into Pseudomonas aeruginosa Mutations Affecting Predation by Myxococcus xanthus

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Type Review article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial Physiology
Issue number2
Early online date01 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2021
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Bacterial predation is a ubiquitous and fundamental biological process, which influences the community composition of microbial ecosystems. Among the best characterised bacterial predators are the myxobacteria, which include the model organism Myxococcus xanthus. Predation by M. xanthus involves the secretion of antibiotic metabolites and hydrolytic enzymes, which results in the lysis of prey organisms and release of prey nutrients into the extracellular milieu. Due to the generalist nature of this predatory mechanism, M. xanthus has a broad prey range, being able to kill and consume Gram-negative/positive bacteria and fungi. Potential prey organisms have evolved a range of behaviours which protect themselves from attack by predators. In recent years, several investigations have studied the molecular responses of a broad variety of prey organisms to M. xanthus predation. It seems that the diverse mechanisms employed by prey belong to a much smaller number of general "predation resistance"strategies. In this mini-review, we present the current state of knowledge regarding M. xanthus predation, and how prey organisms resist predation. As previous molecular studies of prey susceptibility have focussed on individual genes/metabolites, we have also undertaken a genome-wide screen for genes of Pseudomonas aeruginosa which contribute to its ability to resist predation. P. aeruginosa is a World Health Organisation priority 1 antibiotic-resistant pathogen. It is metabolically versatile and has an array of pathogenic mechanisms, leading to its prevalence as an opportunistic pathogen. Using a library of nearly 5,500 defined transposon insertion mutants, we screened for "prey genes", which when mutated allowed increased predation by a fluorescent strain of M. xanthus. A set of candidate "prey proteins"were identified, which shared common functional roles and whose nature suggested that predation resistance by P. aeruginosa requires an effective metal/oxidative stress system, an intact motility system, and mechanisms for de-toxifying antimicrobial peptides.


  • 96-Well plate assays, Clusters of orthologous groups, Myxobacteria, Transposon mutant library