Episode Summary

Bacteria that help nematodes prey on insects also help keep fungi from stealing their kills! 

Microbe of the episode

Artogeia rapae granulovirus 

Jesse's takeaways

Soil is an incredibly complex ecosystem, with many different interactions constantly happening between plants, insects, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, not to mention a large variety of shifting environmental conditions. All of these are competing with some and cooperating with others to try to survive and thrive the best they can.

One interesting interaction takes place between small roundworms in the soil, called nematodes, and bacteria they carry around that cause disease in insects. These nematodes prey on insects by injecting the bacteria into them, which kill and start digesting the insects. The nematodes then feed on the insects and the bacteria until the resources have been exhausted, and then move on to the next insect, taking some bacteria with them again.

In this study, the scientists wondered how these partners deal with competitors in the soil that might want to take advantage of their resources. They discover that the bacteria produce compounds that can repel and inhibit fungi that might otherwise steal their kills.

Journal Paper

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