Bacteria Equipped With A Viral Weapon Fights Other Bacteria For Food

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Bacterial cells are using a virus and a prehistoric viral protein in order to kill other bacteria which competes with it for food, reports.

The international team of researchers who are studying this believes that the whole thing has some implications for future infectious disease treatment.

The team is led by Thomas Wood, holder of the biotechnology endowed chair and professor of chemical engineering, Penn State. They spotted that there is a gap between two kinds of bacterial cells as they move on agar plates towards each other.

This kind of motility is known as swimming according to the official website that we mentioned above. The bacterium moves by rotating its flagella.

“It was kind of like when Alexander Fleming noticing bacteria did not grow near a fungus when he discovered penicillin in the 1920s,” Wood said.

He continued and explained that “We then investigated and found the gap was caused by cells being killed by a virus, SW1, that was carried by only one of the strains.”

The SW1 virus is a weapon 

The team discovered that a bacterial cell uses the SW1 virus in order to kill bacteria that represents a rival in the quest for food. They also found out that the bacteria that carry the virus are more fit and they’re not killed as often as the ones without the same virus.

The results of the study are published in a new issue of Cell Reports.

“Bacteria are frequently thought of as living alone, but instead they can forage for food as groups. In order to act as a group, they must be able to distinguish themselves from other bacteria,” Wood said.

He went on and stated “In one type of social activity, bacterial cells secrete chemical signals to communicate. But now, we show that bacterium cells use viruses to distinguish themselves from closely-related bacteria.”

Rada Mateescu

I have been blogging and posting articles for over eight years, but my passion for writing dates back in 2000. I am especially enthusiastic about technology, science, and health-related issues. When I’m not researching and writing the latest news, I’m either watching sci-fi and horror movies or checking out places worth visiting and building deep memories for later in life. I believe in empathy and continually improving myself.