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Article

Behavioral Interactions between Bacterivorous Nematodes and Predatory Bacteria in a Synthetic Community

1
Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zürich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
2
MIVEGEC (UMR 5290 CNRS, IRD, UM), CNRS, 34394 Montpellier, France
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Shared last authorship and these authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: David Whitworth
Microorganisms 2021, 9(7), 1362; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9071362
Received: 12 March 2021 / Revised: 7 June 2021 / Accepted: 12 June 2021 / Published: 23 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Myxobacteria: Physiology and Regulation)
Theory and empirical studies in metazoans predict that apex predators should shape the behavior and ecology of mesopredators and prey at lower trophic levels. Despite the ecological importance of microbial communities, few studies of predatory microbes examine such behavioral res-ponses and the multiplicity of trophic interactions. Here, we sought to assemble a three-level microbial food chain and to test for behavioral interactions between the predatory nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the predatory social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus when cultured together with two basal prey bacteria that both predators can eat—Escherichia coli and Flavobacterium johnsoniae. We found that >90% of C. elegans worms failed to interact with M. xanthus even when it was the only potential prey species available, whereas most worms were attracted to pure patches of E. coli and F. johnsoniae. In addition, M. xanthus altered nematode predatory behavior on basal prey, repelling C. elegans from two-species patches that would be attractive without M. xanthus, an effect similar to that of C. elegans pathogens. The nematode also influenced the behavior of the bacterial predator: M. xanthus increased its predatory swarming rate in response to C. elegans in a manner dependent both on basal-prey identity and on worm density. Our results suggest that M. xanthus is an unattractive prey for some soil nematodes and is actively avoided when other prey are available. Most broadly, we found that nematode and bacterial predators mutually influence one another’s predatory behavior, with likely consequences for coevolution within complex microbial food webs. View Full-Text
Keywords: microbial food web; trophic interactions; predator–prey interactions; mesopredator; social bacteria; nematodes; experimental community; behavior microbial food web; trophic interactions; predator–prey interactions; mesopredator; social bacteria; nematodes; experimental community; behavior
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mayrhofer, N.; Velicer, G.J.; Schaal, K.A.; Vasse, M. Behavioral Interactions between Bacterivorous Nematodes and Predatory Bacteria in a Synthetic Community. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 1362. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9071362

AMA Style

Mayrhofer N, Velicer GJ, Schaal KA, Vasse M. Behavioral Interactions between Bacterivorous Nematodes and Predatory Bacteria in a Synthetic Community. Microorganisms. 2021; 9(7):1362. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9071362

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mayrhofer, Nicola, Gregory J. Velicer, Kaitlin A. Schaal, and Marie Vasse. 2021. "Behavioral Interactions between Bacterivorous Nematodes and Predatory Bacteria in a Synthetic Community" Microorganisms 9, no. 7: 1362. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9071362

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