What is it about?

Myxobacteria are predatory microorganisms inhabiting soils from every corner of the world. Myxococcus xanthus is the most studied Myxobacterium although not so much attention has been paid to its predatory behavior until very recently. Here, we gather the most recent advances in understanding the many tools used by this microorganism to kill the broad spectra of prey. In particular, we discuss how its motility mechanisms help it to actively look for prey, and how they produce many different compounds and enzymes to kill them. Finally, we also discuss how M. xanthus uses metals during predation either by accumulating them around the prey to induce toxicity or by depleting the prey from essential metals.

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Why is it important?

Myxobacteria are natural inhabitants of our soils around the globe and are important as biocontrol agents and for the establishment of microbial populations in soils. While they are predating on other microorganisms, they produce a plethora of antibacterial agents such as enzymes and natural compounds with antibiotic properties, most of them yet to be studied. Besides medical and biotechnological relevance of finding new antibacterial agents, bacterial predation is also important for agriculture. Understanding how production of these compounds is stimulated in soils, their repercussions on crop growth and health, and the role of elements commonly present in soils such as metal traces, can result in a significant improvement of crops production.


This work, and the work of the many researchers highlighted here, brings the attention to a frequently overlooked inhabitant of our soils that can be a gamechanger in the challenges our society will face in the immediate future, such as the tasks to find new antimicrobial compounds and increase food production.

Francisco Javier Marcos Torres
Universidad de Granada

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Myxococcus xanthus predation: an updated overview, Frontiers in Microbiology, January 2024, Frontiers,
DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2024.1339696.
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