Navigation Links
Fungi: Another tool in bacteria's belt?

Bacteria and fungi are remarkably mobile. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered that the two organisms enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship to aid them in that movement and their survival.

Fungal spores can attach themselves to bacteria, "hitching a ride" wherever the bacteria travel. And while this allows them to travel further than they would on their own, says Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU's Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Physics and Astronomy, it's certainly not a one-way street. Bacteria live largely in the rhizosphere the environment that surrounds plant roots where air pockets can interrupt their progress, he explains. When faced with a gap, the bacteria can drop the fungal spores to form a bridge, and continue across the chasm.

The research, which was recently published in PNAS, was done in collaboration with Dr. Colin J. Ingham of Wageningen University and JBZ Hospital in the Netherlands, the paper's lead author; post-doctoral fellow Dr. Alin Finkelshtein; and graduate student Oren Kalishman working in Prof. Ben-Eshel's TAU lab.

This discovery contributes to our understanding of the way bacteria and fungi spread. Confirmation that the two organisms work in collaboration will help scientists fight disease-causing bacteria, or promote the spread of "good kinds" of bacteria or fungi, such as those that contribute to the health of plants. "In addition we now know that when you fight fungi, you are also fighting bacteria and vice versa," notes Prof. Ben-Jacob.

A bridge to mutual survival

Mobile or "motile" bacteria, such as Paenibacillus vortex, are known to be able to carry cargo. With this in mind, the researchers were motivated to test whether P. vortex would be able to carry non-motile fungi, aiding in its dispersion. In fact, they observed that not only can the bacteria transport the fungi over long distances, like humans being carried by air travel, but they are also able to recover fungal spores from life-threatening locations, moving them to new and more favorable places where they can germinate and start new colonies. "The bacteria entrap the spores and wrap them in their flagella, which are like arms," explains Prof. Ben-Jacob. "This is similar to the way the Lilliputians moved the giant Gulliver by trapping him in a mesh of ropes."

But the bacteria's services aren't free. In an experiment, the researchers created air gaps or "canyons" too large for bacteria to cross. When confronted with this challenge, the bacteria used the fungi's mycelia branch-like structures on the spores as natural bridges, enabling them to cross otherwise impenetrable gaps, notes Dr. Ingham.

"We see that upon encountering impossible terrains, the bacteria can bring fungal spores to help," Prof. Ben-Jacob continues. "The bacteria allow the fungi to germinate and form a colony, and then use the mycelia to cross obstacles."

Taking over new territories

Ultimately, this collaboration helps both the bacteria and the fungi to spread and thrive in highly competitive habitats. It's a sophisticated survival strategy, say the researchers, and contributes to our understanding of bacteria as smart organisms with an intricate social life. "The bacteria never let us down," Prof. Ben-Jacob says with a smile. "Just present them with a new challenge and you can be sure they'll provide new surprises."

These observations can also be applied to agriculture and medicine, showing new mechanisms by which bacteria and fungi can help one another to invade new territories in the rhizosphere as well as in hospitals and within our own bodies.


Contact: George Hunka
American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Related medicine news :

1. Another clue to how obesity works
2. As One Life Starts, Another May Be Saved
3. No One Treatment for Acid Reflux Clearly Better Than Another: Study
4. Another Blood Test for Alzheimers Shows Promise
5. FDA Approves Another New Drug to Fight Hepatitis C
6. Study suggests another look at testosterone-prostate cancer link
7. FDA approval of brain aneurysm device gives Jefferson neurosurgeons another life-saving tool
8. Tufts biologists find another clue to the origins of degenerative diseases
9. Penn study suggests another avenue for detecting Alzheimers disease
10. Polluted Air Another Danger to U.S. Troops in Iraq
11. Scientists Spot Another Gene Behind Type 2 Diabetes
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Fungi: Another tool in bacteria's belt?
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ProSidebar: Fashion ... Cut Pro X. With ProSidebar: Fasion, video editors can easily add an informative ... a minimalist title opener. Utilize presets featuring self-animating drop zones, lines, bars, and ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Consistent with the ... 2016 Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs meeting will showcase some of ... 6, 2016, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a pre-conference session on ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... ... A simply groundbreaking television series, "Voices in America", which is hosted by Hollywood ... issues that are presently affecting Americans. Dedicated to providing the world with a wide ... subjects consumers focus on, one episode at a time. , In the latest ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Keeping ... platform for mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with a leading web-based ... the knowledge gap experienced by parents and bring advice from parenting experts within ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The men and women on this list ... the country. They have overseen financial turnarounds, shown commitment to their community through ... as a whole through their advocacy and professional efforts. , Becker's Hospital Review ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... European Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: ... Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities"  report to their ... has announced the addition of the  ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" ... ) has announced the addition of the ... report to their offering. --> Research ... addition of the "Self Administration of High ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... DUBLIN , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... the addition of the "Radioimmunoassay Market ... User (Hospital, Pharmaceutical Industry, Academics, Clinical Diagnostic ... - Global Forecast to 2020" report ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: