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Impact of spatial organization on a novel auxotrophic interaction among soil microbes

By Xue Jiang, Christian Zerfaß, Ruth Eichmann, Munehiro Asally, Patrick Schäfer, orkun s soyer

Posted 28 Sep 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/195339 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41396-018-0095-z)

A key prerequisite to achieve a deeper understanding of microbial communities and to engineer synthetic ones is to identify the individual metabolic interactions among key species and how these interactions are affected by different environmental factors. Deciphering the physiological basis of species-species and species-environment interactions in spatially organized environment requires reductionist approaches using ecologically and functionally relevant species. To this end, we focus here on a specific defined system to study the metabolic interactions in a spatial context among a plant-beneficial endophytic fungus Serendipita indica, and the soil-dwelling model bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Focusing on the growth dynamics of S. indica under defined conditions, we identified an auxotrophy in this organism for thiamine, which is a key co-factor for essential reactions in the central carbon metabolism. We found that S. indica growth is restored in thiamine-free media, when co-cultured with B. subtilis. The success of this auxotrophic interaction, however, was dependent on the spatial and temporal organization of the system; the beneficial impact of B. subtilis was only visible when its inoculation was separated from that of S. indica either in time or space. These findings describe a key auxotrophic interaction in the soil among organisms that are shown to be important for plant ecosystem functioning, and point to the potential importance of spatial and temporal organization for the success of auxotrophic interactions. These points can be particularly important for engineering of minimal functional synthetic communities as plant-seed treatments and for vertical farming under defined conditions.

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