Friday, September 25, 2020

Born to be wild: Fungal highways let bacteria travel in exchange for thiamine

These different species cooperate for mutual benefit.  Too bad so many humans can't do the same with others in their own species.

News Release 24-Sep-2020
University of Tsukuba

Tiny organisms head out on the highway, looking for adventure like they've ridden straight out of the 1960s rock hit, "Born to Be Wild." Researchers from Japan have discovered that while perhaps not as thrill-seeking, bacteria do indeed travel on fungal highways and pay a toll in return.

In a study published this month in Life Science Alliance, researchers from the University of Tsukuba have revealed a mutual bacterial-fungal relationship that lets bacteria travel in exchange for thiamine.

Thiamine (vitamin B1) is essential to the health of almost all living organisms, and is synthesized by bacteria, plants, fungi and some protozoans. Free thiamine is scarce in the environment, and organisms appear to have developed numerous ways of obtaining it.


"The bacteria cultured with the fungus traveled along fungal filaments using their flagella," explains Professor Nozomu Obana, senior author. "They dispersed farther with the expansion of the fungal colony than they would have otherwise, suggesting that the fungal filaments supply space for bacteria to migrate, disperse and multiply."

The fungus in this study is a type that can synthesize thiamine on its own, but used thiamine produced by the bacteria. Because these bacteria synthesize thiamine extracellularly, neighboring bacteria and fungi in nature could uptake it and use it, saving them the cost of synthesizing it themselves.


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