Monday, March 16, 2020

BacterioFiles 418 - Special Sea Species Swallows Cells

New microbe engulfing prey
By Shiratori et al. 2019
Nat Commun 10(1):1-11, CC BY 4.0
This episode: A newly discovered species of bacteria consumes other bacteria as prey by engulfing them!

Also a note to listeners: Because things are hectic at work right now (unless that changes due to current events), I'm planning to put the show on hold for a few weeks. So if you don't see new episodes, that's why.

Download Episode (8.7 MB, 12.6 minutes)

Show notes:
Microbe of the episode: SARS-CoV-2! This is the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, the current pandemic. For more up-to-date information, please refer to the American Society for Microbiology, This Week in Virology, and other reputable sources. Stay healthy!

There are bacteria living almost every different lifestyle you can think of, including predatory, preying on other bacteria. Since bacterial cells are usually quite rigid, bacterial predators usually consume others either by burrowing inside them or digesting them from outside, rather than engulfing prey like eukaryotes often do.

The study here discovers a new kind of bacteria, in the group called Planctomycetes, known for having unusually flexible cells and internal compartments like eukaryotes. This new species does engulf its prey, including bacteria and even tiny algae, and digests them inside itself. It possesses multiple adaptations that suit it for this lifestyle.

Journal Paper:
Shiratori T, Suzuki S, Kakizawa Y, Ishida K. 2019. Phagocytosis-like cell engulfment by a planctomycete bacterium. Nat Commun 10:1–11.

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