Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Invisibility Cloak Needed for Cooperation?

Unusual lipopolysaccharide enables symbiosis between bacterium and fungus

We and all other organisms must constantly grapple with bacteria. Whether for a necessary symbiosis or an infection, carbohydrate structures on cell surfaces play an important role in the interactions between bacteria and organisms.

A team led by Antonio Molinaro at the University of Naples and Christian Hertweck at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology in Jena have now discovered an unusual carbohydrate structure without which the symbiosis between a bacterium and a fungus that affects rice plants is not stable. As the researchers report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the bacterium probably requires this structure as camouflage for protection against the defense mechanisms of the fungus.

In gram-negative bacteria, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) carbohydrate structures are especially important for cell–cell interactions. LPS consists of a complex chain made of various saccharide molecules and a lipid that anchors the structure in the cell membrane. “Previous studies were limited to the role of LPS in the interaction of bacteria with animals or plants,” says Hertweck. “There is thus a sizeable knowledge gap with respect to interaction with other microbes.” The team has now examined a singular symbiosis: The fungus Rhizopus microsporus, which causes rice blight, inhibits root growth in rice plants, causing the plants to die. To achieve this, the fungus needs a partner—the bacterium Burkholderia rhizoxinica. The bacteria produce toxins needed by the fungus to damage the rice plants. The nutrients released by the dead plants are then used by both symbiotic partners.

“Until now the mechanism that allows the bacteria to survive within the fungal cells has remained a mystery,” says Hertweck. Now the team seems to be on the heels of a solution. “We have found an unusual polysaccharide, a chain of several galactose molecules, in the LPS of the bacterium,” says Herweck. “This pattern has not been seen before in this class of bacteria; however similar structures often occur in fungi.” The bacterium possibly mimics these structural elements of its host organism. The researchers infected fungi with mutated bacteria that did not contain these polysaccharides. In this case, the partners are not able establish a stable symbiosis. This becomes evident when the fungi are no longer able to produce spores.

“The special galactose sequence probably acts as a disguise for the bacterium,” opines Hertweck. “It is possible that it is thus not recognized as foreign, which keeps it safe from the defense mechanism of the fungus.”

Author: Christian Hertweck, Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie, HKI,

Title: An Unusual Galactofuranose Lipopolysaccharide That Ensures the Intracellular Survival of Toxin-Producing Bacteria in Their Fungal Host

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article:

Christian Hertweck | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>