Episode Summary

Fungus-hunting amoebas have different strategies for detecting and preying on single-celled and filamentous fungi!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Chondromyces catenulatus

Jesse's takeaways

Amoebas in the microbial world are like powerful predators, going around gobbling up whatever they find that's small enough, by a process called phagocytosis, in which they surround their prey with their cell membrane and engulf it. It's similar to macrophages or white blood cells as part of our immune system in our bodies.

The prey of amoebas includes bacteria, large viruses, and single-celled fungi called yeasts. In this study, scientists showed that some yeasts make great food sources for a certain kind of amoeba called Protostelium aurantium, while others either lack nutritional value or hide from the predators by covering up certain recognition molecules on their cell wall.

They found that the amoebas could also consume the spores of filamentous fungi, and could even attack the filaments, or hyphae. In this latter case, instead of engulfing the large filaments, they pierced the cells and extracted their contents, an approach named ruphocytosis, from the Greek for suck or slurp.

Journal Paper

Radosa S, Ferling I, Sprague JL, Westermann M, Hillmann F. The different morphologies of yeast and filamentous fungi trigger distinct killing and feeding mechanisms in a fungivorous amoeba. Environ Microbiol.

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