Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Imaging reveals key metabolic factors of cannibalistic bacteria

Date:
September 7, 2010
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Researchers have revealed new details about how cannibalistic bacteria identify peers suitable for consumption. The work, which employed imaging mass spectrometry, is a first step toward a broader effort to map all signaling molecules between organisms.

A colony of Bacillus subtilis (right) inhibits growth of human pathogen S. epidermus.
Credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have revealed new details about how cannibalistic bacteria identify peers suitable for consumption. The work, which employed imaging mass spectrometry, is a first step toward a broader effort to map all signaling molecules between organisms.

Related Articles


"These are the molecules that control biology," said Pieter C. Dorrestein, PhD, associate professor at UC San Diego's Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and corresponding author of a paper published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bacterial cannibalism occurs when a subpopulation of a microbial colony eats another subpopulation, harvesting the latter's nutrients to sustain growth in times when external food sources are limited. The phenomenon is well-known, but not well-characterized. For example, researchers have not known exactly how microbes identify, select and kill their genetically identical siblings.

Dorrestein, with colleagues at UC San Diego and in Iowa and Texas, studied Bacillus subtilis, a common species with a complex life cycle that thrives in diverse living conditions, from soil to contaminated wounds to the intestinal tract. Using imaging mass spectrometry, the researchers generated spatial distributions or chemical maps of molecules within the microbe, focusing in particular on two metabolites called sporulation delaying protein (SDP) and sporulation killing factor (SKF), which the scientists correctly hypothesized were directly involved in the cannibalistic process.

"These are the first fully characterized molecules that enable B. subtilis to 'digest' or differentiate genetically identical cells," said Dorrestein. "Our work also shows that the molecules the bacteria uses to differentiate themselves are akin to those of a multicellular organism, even though the microbes are genetically identical. Most people do not think of a microbial colony as a differentially organized multicellular organism."

Since SDP and SKF were involved in killing bacteria, the scientists also explored whether the molecules might be effective weapons against human pathogens. Their findings were mixed. SKF had no effect on targeted pathogens like Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Klebsiella pneumonia, but SDP displayed potent inhibitory activity against two variants of Staphylococcus aureas and other pathogens. Dorrestein said SDP itself has limited potential as an antibacterial agent, "but it could serve as an antibiotic lead compound where the active portion can be modified to meet the requirements of a therapeutic agent. It further shows that imaging mass spectrometry can be used to discover biologically active molecules."

He said additional antibacterial molecules are likely to be found in other cannibalistic species, but they remain to be identified and described.

Co-authors with Dorrestein are Wei-Ting Liu, Jane Y. Yang and David Gonzalez of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSD; Yu-Liang Yang and Yuquan Xu of UCSD's Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Anne Lamsa of the Division of Biological Sciences at UCSD; Nina M. Haste of the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Julio Ng of the Department of Computer Science at UCSD; Craig D. Ellermeier of the Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa; Paul D. Straight of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University; Pavel A. Pevzner of UCSD's Department of Computer Science and the National Center for Research Resources Center for Computational Mass Spectrometry; Joe Pogliano of UCSD's Division of Biological Sciences; Victor Nizet of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine and Department of Pediatrics, UC San Diego; and Kit Pogliano, UCSD Division of Biological Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W.-T. Liu, Y.-L. Yang, Y. Xu, A. Lamsa, N. M. Haste, J. Y. Yang, J. Ng, D. Gonzalez, C. D. Ellermeier, P. D. Straight, P. A. Pevzner, J. Pogliano, V. Nizet, K. Pogliano, P. C. Dorrestein. Imaging mass spectrometry of intraspecies metabolic exchange revealed the cannibalistic factors of Bacillus subtilis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1008368107

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Imaging reveals key metabolic factors of cannibalistic bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100903092513.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2010, September 7). Imaging reveals key metabolic factors of cannibalistic bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100903092513.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Imaging reveals key metabolic factors of cannibalistic bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100903092513.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins