The cell organization underlying structural colour is involved in Flavobacterium IR1 predation

Raditijo Hamidjaja, Jérémie Capoulade, Laura Catón, Colin J. Ingham

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    Flavobacterium IR1 is a gliding bacterium with a high degree of colonial organization as a 2D photonic crystal, resulting in vivid structural coloration when illuminated. Enterobacter cloacae B12, an unrelated bacterium, was isolated from the brown macroalga Fucus vesiculosus from the same location as IR1. IR1 was found to be a predator of B12. A process of surrounding, infiltration, undercutting and killing of B12 supported improved growth of IR1. A combination of motility and capillarity facilitated the engulfment of B12 colonies by IR1. Predation was independent of illumination. Mutants of IR1 that formed photonic crystals less effectively than the wild type were reduced in predation. Conversely, formation of a photonic crystal was not advantageous in resisting predation by Rhodococcus spp. PIR4. These observations suggest that the organization required to create structural colour has a biological function (facilitating predation) but one that is not directly related to the photonic properties of the colony. This work is the first experimental evidence supporting a role for this widespread type of cell organization in the Flavobacteriia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2890-2900
    Number of pages11
    JournalISME Journal
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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