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Deadly competition between sibling bacterial colonies

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As a result of stress due to nutrient limitation or antibiotics, competing individual bacteria within a single colony may lyse sibling cells to release nutrients (cannibalism) or DNA (fratricide). However, we have recently shown that competition is not limited to individuals, but can occur at the colony level. In response to the presence of an encroaching sibling colony, Paenibacillus dendritiformis bacteria secrete a lethal protein, lysing cells at the interface between the colonies. Analysis of the proteins secreted by these competing sibling colonies, combined with a mathematical model, show how colonies maintain their growth by self-regulating the secretion of two significant proteins: subtilisin (a growth promoter), and Slf (a lethal protein). The results also explain why a single colony is not inhibited by its own secretions.

This talk is part of the DAMTP BioLunch series.

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