Episode Summary

A bacteriophage and bacterial predator can wipe out a population of bacteria that could develop resistance to each individually!

Thanks to Laura Hobley, J. Kimberley Summers, and Jan-Ulrich Kreft for their contributions!
Also a note: I will be taking a short break from podcasts while I rebuild my collection of awesome microbiology stories to talk about.

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Blackbird associated gemycircularvirus 1

Jesse's takeaways

Bacteriophages and bacterial predators that prey on other bacteria are both very good at killing large numbers of bacteria. But bacteria as a whole are also very good at surviving being killed in large numbers; there are almost always a few that have the right genes to overcome whatever is doing the killing. This is what makes the threat of antibiotic resistance so scary, and why phage therapy is both very promising and very limited.
In this study, however, a combination of phages and the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorans is able to completely eradicate a population of bacteria, or at least reduce their numbers below a detectable level. A mathematical model based on these data predicts that despite the two killers working independently, they can effectively eliminate all the individual prey organisms that would otherwise be able to resist killing by either one alone.

Journal Paper

Hobley L, Summers JK, Till R, Milner DS, Atterbury RJ, Stroud A, Capeness MJ, Gray S, Leidenroth A, Lambert C, Connerton I, Twycross J, Baker M, Tyson J, Kreft J-U, Sockett RE. 2020. Dual Predation by Bacteriophage and Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus Can Eradicate Escherichia coli Prey in Situations where Single Predation Cannot. J Bacteriol 202.

Other interesting stories

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