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Exposure to lysed bacteria can promote or inhibit growth of neighboring live bacteria depending on local abiotic conditions

Citation

Smakman, Fokko; Hall, Alex R (2022), Exposure to lysed bacteria can promote or inhibit growth of neighboring live bacteria depending on local abiotic conditions, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fxpnvx0tt

Abstract

Abstract Microbial death is extremely common in nature, yet the ecological role of dead bacteria is unclear. Dead cells are assumed to provide nutrients to surrounding microbes, but may also affect them in other ways. We found that adding lysate prepared from dead bacteria to cultures of Escherichia coli in nutrient-rich conditions suppressed their final population density. This is in stark contrast with the notion that the primary role of dead cells is nutritional, although we also observed this type of effect when we added dead bacteria to cultures that were not supplied with other nutrients. We only observed the growth-suppressive effect of our dead-bacteria treatment after they had undergone significant lysis, suggesting a key role for cellular contents released during lysis. Transcriptomic analysis indicated changes in gene expression in response to dead cells in growing populations, particularly in genes involved in motility. This was supported by experiments with genetic knockouts and copy-number manipulation. Because lysis is commonplace in natural and clinical settings, the growth-suppressive effect of dead cells we describe here may be a widespread and previously unrecognized constraint on bacterial population growth.

Funding

Swiss National Science Foundation, Award: 31003A_165803