Chemical language and warfare of bacterial natural products in bacteria–nematode–insect interactions
Covering: up to November 2017
Organismic interaction is one of the fundamental principles for survival in any ecosystem. Today, numerous examples show the interaction between microorganisms like bacteria and higher eukaryotes that can be anything between mutualistic to parasitic/pathogenic symbioses. There is also increasing evidence that microorganisms are used by higher eukaryotes not only for the supply of essential factors like vitamins but also as biological weapons to protect themselves or to kill other organisms. Excellent examples for such systems are entomopathogenic nematodes of the genera Heterorhabditis and Steinernema that live in mutualistic symbiosis with bacteria of the genera Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus, respectively. Although these systems have been used successfully in organic farming on an industrial scale, it was only shown during the last 15 years that several different natural products (NPs) produced by the bacteria play key roles in the complex life cycle of the bacterial symbionts, the nematode host and the insect prey that is killed by and provides nutrients for the nematode–bacteria pair. Since the bacteria can switch from mutualistic to pathogenic lifestyle, interacting with two different types of higher eukaryotes, and since the full system with all players can be established in the lab, they are promising model systems to elucidate the natural function of microbial NPs. This review summarizes the current knowledge as well as open questions for NPs from Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus and tries to assign their roles in the tritrophic relationship.
- This article is part of the themed collection: The Chemistry of Symbiotic Interactions