Probing bacterial–fungal interactions at the single cell level
Interactions between fungi and prokaryotes are abundant in many ecological systems. A wide variety of biomolecules regulate such interactions and many of them have found medicinal or biotechnological applications. However, studying a fungal–bacterial system at a cellular level is technically challenging. New microfluidic devices provided a platform for microscopic studies and for long-term, time-lapse experiments. Application of these novel tools revealed insights into the dynamic interactions between the basidiomycete Coprinopsis cinerea and the bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Direct contact was mediated by polar attachment of bacteria to only a subset of fungal hyphae suggesting a differential competence of fungal hyphae and thus differentiation of hyphae within a mycelium. The fungicidal activity of B. subtilis was monitored at a cellular level and showed a novel mode of action on fungal hyphae.