Interspecies nutrient extraction and toxin delivery between bacteria

Ofer Stempler, Amit K. Baidya, Saurabh Bhattacharya, Ganesh Babu Malli Mohan, Elhanan Tzipilevich, Lior Sinai, Gideon Mamou, Sigal Ben-Yehuda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Bacteria have developed various mechanisms by which they sense, interact, and kill other bacteria, in an attempt to outcompete one another and survive. Here we show that Bacillus subtilis can kill and prey on Bacillus megaterium. We find that Bacillus subtilis rapidly inhibits Bacillus megaterium growth by delivering the tRNase toxin WapA. Furthermore, utilizing the methionine analogue L-azidohomoalanine as a nutrient reporter, we provide evidence of nutrient extraction from Bacillus megaterium by Bacillus subtilis. Toxin delivery and nutrient extraction occur in a contact-dependent manner, and both activities are abolished in the absence of the phosphodiestrase YmdB, shown previously to mediate intercellular nanotube formation. Furthermore, we detect the localization of WapA molecules to nanotubes. Thus, we propose that Bacillus subtilis utilizes the same nanotube apparatus in a bidirectional manner, delivering toxin and acquiring beneficial cargo, thereby maximally exploiting potential niche resources.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number315
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

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© 2017 The Author(s).


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