Loss of Motility as a Non-Lethal Mechanism for Intercolony Inhibition (“Sibling Rivalry”) in Marinobacter

Bacteria from the genus Marinobacter are ubiquitous throughout the worlds’ oceans as “opportunitrophs” capable of surviving a wide range of conditions, including colonization of surfaces of marine snow and algae. To prevent too many bacteria from occupying this ecological niche simultaneously, some sort of population dependent control must be operative. Here, we show that while Marinobacter do not produce or utilize an acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-based quorum sensing system, “sibling” colonies of many species of Marinobacter exhibit a form of non-lethal chemical communication that prevents colonies from overrunning each other’s niche space. Evidence suggests that this inhibition is the result of a loss in motility for cells at the colony interfaces. Although not the signal itself, we have identified a protein, glycerophosphoryl diester phosphodiesterase, that is enriched in the inhibition zone between the spreading colonies that may be part of the overall response.


Cruz-López R, Kolesinski P, De Boever F, Green DH, Carrano MW, Carrano CJ

Microorganisms 9 (1)
01, 5, 2021
Pages: 103
DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms9010103