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A novel assay to monitor predator–prey interactions for Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus 109 J reveals a role for methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins in predation

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*For correspondence. E-mail liz.sockett@nottingham.ac.uk; Tel. (+44) 115 9194496; Fax (+44) 115 9709906,

Summary

Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus are Gram-negative bacteria that prey upon other Gram-negative bacteria, including some pathogens, in a wide variety of habitats including soil, sewage, marine and estuarine environments. In order to facilitate studies on predation by this organism, we have developed a method that assays killing of luminescent Escherichia coli by B. bacteriovorus. Moreover, we have used this assay to compare predation of cells by derivatives of B. bacteriovorus containing targeted mutations in genes we have identified. Two genes are described; one, mcp2, encoding a methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein (MCP) and the other, an mviN homologue. Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus mcp2::aphII were less efficient predators on luminescent E. coli than B. bacteriovorus containing a randomly inserted aphII gene via TnphoA transposition. These and other chemotaxis experiments implicated at least a minor role for chemotaxis in predation by B. bacteriovorus. They also open the way for further studies on Bdellovibrio ecology, genomics and predator–prey interactions. The results further confirm that Bdellovibrio uses a chemotaxis system in order to sense, and respond to, changes in its environment, including prey.

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