Ecological Populations of Bacteria Act as Socially Cohesive Units of Antibiotic Production and Resistance

Type Article
Date 2012-09
Language English
Author(s) Cordero Otto X.1, Wildschutte Hans1, Kirkup Benjamin1, Proehl Sarah1, Ngo Lynn1, Hussain Fatima1, Le Roux Frederique2, Mincer Tracy3, Polz Martin F.1
Affiliation(s) 1 : MIT, Dept Civil & Environm Engn, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA.
2 : Inst Francais Rech Exploitat Mer, Lab Genet & Pathol BP 133, F-17390 La Tremblade, France.
3 : Woods Hole Oceanog Inst, Dept Marine Chem & Geochem, Woods Hole, MA 02543 USA.
Source Science (0036-8075) (Amer Assoc Advancement Science), 2012-09 , Vol. 337 , N. 6099 , P. 1228-1231
DOI 10.1126/science.1219385
WOS© Times Cited 207
Abstract In animals and plants, social structure can reduce conflict within populations and bias aggression toward competing populations; however, for bacteria in the wild it remains unknown whether such population-level organization exists. Here, we show that environmental bacteria are organized into socially cohesive units in which antagonism occurs between rather than within ecologically defined populations. By screening approximately 35,000 possible mutual interactions among Vibrionaceae isolates from the ocean, we show that genotypic clusters known to have cohesive habitat association also act as units in terms of antibiotic production and resistance. Genetic analyses show that within populations, broad-range antibiotics are produced by few genotypes, whereas all others are resistant, suggesting cooperation between conspecifics. Natural antibiotics may thus mediate competition between populations rather than solely increase the success of individuals.
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Cordero Otto X., Wildschutte Hans, Kirkup Benjamin, Proehl Sarah, Ngo Lynn, Hussain Fatima, Le Roux Frederique, Mincer Tracy, Polz Martin F. (2012). Ecological Populations of Bacteria Act as Socially Cohesive Units of Antibiotic Production and Resistance. Science, 337(6099), 1228-1231. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :