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Microbes united against the enemy

Symbioses with bacterium protects fungus against nematode
(Left) Fluoreszence microscopy used to detect the bacterium (green) in the hyphae of the fungus (blue); (Right) In the presence of the toxin-producing bacteria inside the hyphae, nematodes are killed (Source: Leibniz-HKI)

The symbiosis with a bacterium protects a fungus of the genus Mortierella against its predator - a nematode. Researchers from the Leibniz-HKI report on this hidden triangular relationship in the scientific journal PNAS. They discovered a previously undescribed bacterium, named Candidatus Mycoavidus necroximicus, that lives in the fungal hyphae and produces the toxin necroxime. The results offer new possibilities for nature-friendly agriculture since fungi of this genus are mainly found in healthy soils. The study was carried out within the framework of the Collaborative Research Centre ChemBioSys at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Press release by Monika Kirsch (Leibniz-HKI)

Original publication

Büttner H, Niehs SP, Vandelannoote K, Cseresnyés Z, Dose B, Richter I, Gerst R, Figge MT, Stinear TP, Pidot SJ, Hertweck C (2021) Bacterial endosymbionts protect beneficial soil fungus from nematode attack. PNAS, 118 (37), doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2110669118.