Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Constricting without a string: Bacteria gone to the worms divide differently

10.10.2016

A new study provides fascinating insights into how bacteria divide. This shows not only how little we know about bacteria outside of the lab, but might also bring us one step closer towards the development of new antibiotics.

Even though the diversity and importance of microorganisms in all ecosystems has been established long time ago, our knowledge in many areas of microbiology is still limited. One of those areas is bacterial cell division, detailing how cells reproduce, creating two daughter cells from one. One of the key proteins involved in this process is FtsZ. Like a rubber band, FtsZ creates a ring around the cell and virtually pinches it off, thus initiating cell division. That’s the theory, according to the current state of knowledge. But things can be quite different, as the study on hand shows.


The rod-shaped bacteria densely populating the surface of the worm belong to the Gammaproteobacteria. These comprise members of our gut microbiome but also some serious pathogens.

Nikolaus Leisch


The nematode Robbea hypermnestra mainly occurs in Caribbean shallow water sediments. Leisch and colleagues collected their samples at the field station of the Smithsonian Institute in Belize.

Nikolaus Lei

“Nearly all research on this topic was done on a handful of model organisms which can be cultivated in the lab”, explains first author Niko Leisch from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen. As a result, many aspects of microbial life remain undiscovered. Leisch, together with the lead scientist Silvia Bulgheresi from the University of Vienna and Tanneke den Blaauwen from the University of Amsterdam, therefore uses organisms that cannot be cultivated in the laboratory. They study bacteria which live as symbionts on the surface of a small nematode. The worm lives in a symbiosis with only a single species of bacteria, which form a dense but highly organized “coat” on the surface of the worm. That’s why, using these worms, we can study pure cultures from the environment”, Leisch explains the “trick”.

The bacterium in question divides longitudinally, which is already highly unusual for a rod-shaped bacterium. On top of that, the scientists found out that the bacteria divide asymmetrically. The division process starts where the cell touches the worm. The cell pole which is directed towards the environment subsequently follows.

„Microbiology textbooks tell us that bacterial cells assemble a ring of FtsZ before division”, Leisch continues. “Despite using high-resolution microscopic approaches with specific dyes, we couldn’t find this ring.” FtsZ was present, but the proteins only accumulated as small patches along the length axis. “As no ring is formed, these patches of FtsZ must individually exert a force to divide the cell. This has so far not been observed and gives rise to many new questions. For example, how is the necessary force generated to divide the cell?”

Why all of this matters? “The majority of what we know nowadays about bacteria, their growth and reproduction comes from the work from cultivable model organisms”, says Leisch. “But especially the work on bacteria from the environment done in the last few years has shown again and again how the cell division machinery is much more flexible and complex than what we though. And a better understanding of growth and division of bacteria are crucial for the development of potential new antibiotics.”

The scientists suspect that the worm on which the bacteria live influences their cell division. It seems to control its symbiotic residents quite well. For example, it somehow manages to keep its head and tail clear of the otherwise dense coat of bacteria. “We still don’t know how it does that”, says Leisch.

“Resistance to antibiotics is a big issue nowadays. The development of new antibiotics aims towards inhibiting growth and reproduction of bacteria. This worm obviously manages to do just that. If we can understand how it accomplishes that, it would be a great step forward.”

The unusual cell division of this bacterium is probably an adaptation to the symbiotic lifestyle, Leisch and his colleagues suspect. But to better understand the processes and their importance they emphasize that more studies need to be performed on such non-model organisms.

Original publication
Nikolaus Leisch, Nika Pende, Philipp M. Weber, Harald R. Gruber-Vodicka, Jolanda 

Verheul, Norbert O. E. Vischer, Sophie S. Abby, Benedikt Geier, Tanneke den Blaauwen and Silvia Bulgheresi: Asynchronous division by non-ring FtsZ in the gammaproteobacterial symbiont of Robbea hypermnestra. Nature Microbiology.
DOI: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.182 



Participating institutes
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
University of Vienna, Department of Ecogenetics and Systems Biology, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria 

Bacterial Cell Biology, Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Boelelaan 1108, 1081 HZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands 


Please direct your queries to

Dr. Nikolaus Leisch
Phone: +49 421 2028 822
E-Mail: nleisch(at)mpi-bremen.de

or the press office

Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger
Dr. Manfred Schlösser
Phone: +49 421 2028 704
E-Mail: presse(at)mpi-bremen.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpi-bremen.de

Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>