Episode Summary

Bacteriophages can hitch a ride on bacteria they don't infect to travel through soil on fungal filaments, potentially helping their carriers by infecting and killing their competitors!

Microbe of the episode:

Epinotia aporema granulovirus

News Item

Jesse's takeaways

For tiny bacteria, partially dry soil can be like a vast system of caverns, with particles of soil separated by air-filled spaces much bigger than individual bacteria. Not all bacteria can swim through liquid, and those that can’t simply try to thrive as best they can wherever they may be. But for those that can swim, fungi and other filamentous organisms can form bridges between soil particles that motile bacteria can swim across, reaching new places.

In this study, phages were found to hitch a ride on bacteria they don’t normally infect, crossing fungus-like filaments to new places and infecting the bacteria they find there. The bacteria carrying them can also benefit from this interaction, since the phages help the carrier bacteria compete and establish a colony in the new location.

Journal Paper

You X, Kallies R, Kühn I, Schmidt M, Harms H, Chatzinotas A, Wick LY. 2022. Phage co-transport with hyphal-riding bacteria fuels bacterial invasion in a water-unsaturated microbial model system. 5. ISME J 16:1275–1283.

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