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Summary

Bacterial communities are often heavily consumed by microfaunal predators, such as protozoa and nematodes. Predation is an important cause of mortality and determines the structure and activity of microbial communities in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and bacteria evolved various defence mechanisms helping them to resist predation. In this review, I summarize known antipredator defence strategies and their regulation, and explore their importance for bacterial fitness in various environmental conditions, and their implications for bacterial evolution and diversification under predation pressure. I discuss how defence mechanisms affect competition and cooperation within bacterial communities. Finally I present some implications of bacterial defence mechanisms for ecosystem services provided by microbial communities, such as nutrient cycling, virulence and the biological control of plant diseases.