Microfluidics Reveals Trapping of Endosymbiotic Bacteria Inside a Fungus
Ingrid Richter a, Zerrin Uzum a, Calire Stanley b, Sacha Pidot c, Christian Hertweck a d
a Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology, Jena, Germany, Germany
b Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London, UK
c Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
d Faculty of Biological Sciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany
Proceedings of Emerging Investigators in Microfluidics Conference (EIMC)
Online, Spain, 2021 July 20th - 21st
Organizers: Adrian Nightingale, Darius Rackus and Claire Stanley
Oral, Ingrid Richter, presentation 025
DOI: https://doi.org/10.29363/nanoge.eimc.2021.025
Publication date: 5th July 2021

Fungal-bacterial interactions (BFIs) are highly prevalent in nature and are critically important in a variety of fields such as agriculture, biotechnology, and medicine [1]. An important feature of BFIs is the ability of bacteria to control and exploit their eukaryotic hosts [2]. The most intriguing case of bacteria controlling host reproduction is the endosymbiosis between the zygomycete Rhizopus microsporus and its bacterial endosymbiont Burkholderia rhizoxinica [3, 4]. In this agriculturally relevant symbiosis [5], host reproduction through spores relies exclusively on the presence of endobacteria [4]. However, there is a considerable lack of knowledge about the molecular basis of this interaction. Through a combination of genomic and functional studies, we show that B. rhizoxinica transcription activator-like effectors (BATs) are essential for the establishment of a stable symbiosis. Utilising novel microfluidics devices [6] in combination with fluorescence microscopy we report induction of septa biogenesis in R. microsporus. This leads to trapping of BAT-deficient endobacteria in infected hyphae. Considering that the survival rate of trapped bacteria is significantly reduced, endosymbionts incapable of secreting BAT proteins may elicit a protective response from the fungus. The occurrence of septa is one of the most surprising results, as Zygomycetes generally lack septate hyphae. The impact of endobacteria on fungal physiology offers a broader view on the dynamic interactions between bacteria and fungi.


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6.               Stanley, C.E., et al., Probing bacterial-fungal interactions at the single cell level. Integr Biol, 2014. 6(10): p. 935-945.

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