Positive interactions are common among culturable bacteria

Jared Kehe, Anthony Ortiz, Anthony Kulesa, Jeff Gore, Paul C. Blainey*, Jonathan Friedman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Interspecies interactions shape the structure and function of microbial communities. In particular, positive, growth-promoting interactions can substantially affect the diversity and productivity of natural and engineered communities. However, the prevalence of positive interactions and the conditions in which they occur are not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we used kChip, an ultrahigh-throughput coculture platform, to measure 180,408 interactions among 20 soil bacteria across 40 carbon environments. We find that positive interactions, often described to be rare, occur commonly and primarily as parasitisms between strains that differ in their carbon consumption profiles. Notably, nongrowing strains are almost always promoted by strongly growing strains (85%), suggesting a simple positive interaction–mediated approach for cultivation, microbiome engineering, and microbial consortium design.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbereabi7159
JournalScience advances
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 2021

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