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