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Predator-prey relationships among prokaryotes have received little attention but are likely to be important determinants of the composition, structure, and dynamics of microbial communities. Many species of the soil-dwelling myxobacteria are predators of other microbes, but their predation range is poorly characterized. To better understand the predatory capabilities of myxobacteria in nature, we analyzed the predation performance of numerous Myxococcus isolates across 12 diverse species of bacteria. All predator isolates could utilize most potential prey species to effectively fuel colony expansion, although one species hindered predator swarming relative to a control treatment with no growth substrate. Predator strains varied significantly in their relative performance across prey types, but most variation in predatory performance was determined by prey type, with Gram-negative prey species supporting more Myxococcus growth than Gram-positive species. There was evidence for specialized predator performance in some predator-prey combinations. Such specialization may reduce resource competition among sympatric strains in natural habitats. The broad prey range of the Myxococcus genus coupled with its ubiquity in the soil suggests that myxobacteria are likely to have very important ecological and evolutionary effects on many species of soil prokaryotes.

Original publication




Journal article


Appl Environ Microbiol

Publication Date





6920 - 6927


Bacterial Proteins, Cluster Analysis, Endopeptidase Clp, HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins, Isocitrate Dehydrogenase, Molecular Sequence Data, Myxococcus, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Soil Microbiology