- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Many microbes produce stress-resistant spores to survive unfavorable conditions [1, 2, 3, 4] and enhance dispersal [1, 5]. Cooperative behavior is integral to the process of spore formation in some species [3, 6], but the degree to which germination of spore populations involves social interactions remains little explored. Myxococcus xanthus is a predatory soil bacterium that upon starvation forms spore-filled multicellular fruiting bodies that often harbor substantial diversity of endemic origin [7, 8]. Here we demonstrate that germination of M. xanthus spores formed during fruiting-body development is a social process involving at least two functionally distinct social molecules. Using pairs of natural isolates each derived from a single fruiting body that emerged on soil, we first show that spore germination exhibits positive density dependence due to a secreted “public-good” germination factor. Further, we find that a germination defect of one strain under saline stress in pure culture is complemented by addition of another strain that germinates well in saline environments and mediates cheating by the defective strain. Glycine betaine, an osmo-protectant utilized in all domains of life, is found to mediate saline-specific density dependence and cheating. Density dependence in non-saline conditions is mediated by a distinct factor, revealing socially complex spore germination involving multiple social molecules. Show more
Journal / seriesCurrent Biology
Pages / Article No.
SubjectDensity dependence; Osmotic stress; Public goods; Social evolution; Spore germination; Myxobacteria; Glycine Betaine
Organisational unit03939 - Velicer, Gregory J. / Velicer, Gregory J.
03713 - Sauer, Uwe / Sauer, Uwe
160005 - Experimental evolution of motile social bacteria (SNF)
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