In a new study, researchers have compared two different general ways in which bacteria compete with one another, and they have found that each strategy seems to be particularly effective under different ecological circumstances--for example, depending on whether the bacteria are rare invaders or abundant residents. The findings, reported by a group of researchers including Sam P. Brown of the University of Texas at Austin, Cambridge University, and University of Montpellier II, and François Taddei of University of Paris, appear in the October 24th issue of Current Biology.
Bacteria are not always so fortunate as to grow alone in their environment, and they often face competition from other lineages. One widespread solution is to kill these competitors.
In the new work, the researchers explored the relative value to both invading and defensive bacteria of two distinct microbial mechanisms of killing competitors: through the release of chemicals (for example, antibiotics or bacteriocins) and through the release of parasites (for example, bacterial viruses, known as phages). Focusing on the second mechanism in an experimental setting, the researchers showed that even though some of the invading bacteria can be killed by their own phage parasites, upon their death they release a burst of infectious parasites that can kill competitor bacteria. Unlike chemical killing, released parasites trigger an epidemic among susceptible competitors, which become factories producing more parasites. Amplification therefore makes phage carriers able to successfully compete with phage-susceptible bacteria even faster when the carriers are rare, whereas chemical killers can only win in a well-mixed environment when chemical carriers are sufficiently abundant. The findings show that the release of chemical toxins is superior as a resident strategy to repel invasions, whereas the release of parasites is superior as a strategy of invasion.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
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Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
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Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
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