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Phages and antibiotic producers

Posted by csrsanchez on 19 Sep 2007 at 14:06 GMT

In addition to the potential implications for medicine (i.e., antibiotics+phages combination therapy), I like the thought-provoking idea of a possible co-evolution of certain traits in antibiotic-producing microbes and in phages infecting antibiotic-sensitive bacteria. One can imagine (have a look at Figure 1) several concentric, inhibition zones surrounding the cells (or mycelia) of an antibiotic producer. Inner zones, where antibiotic concentration is deadly for different microbes (depending on their respective sensitivities). And outer zones, where the antibiotic concentration is only sub-lethal but stimulate phage production in sensitive phage-microbe couples; we might picture it as a "defensive barrier" consisting of a higher local concentration of phages, ready to attack sensitive newcomers. Given that we really don't know the antibiotic concentrations that are actually produced by microorganisms in natural environments (at least I don't know), the sub-lethal effects of secondary metabolites may be more significant than their "antibiotic" effects. Just let your imagination fly...

RE: Phages and antibiotic producers

Pseudot4 replied to csrsanchez on 23 Sep 2007 at 07:30 GMT

Yes, it does come down to some sort of micro scale Gaia hypothesis.
I think it important to point out that in nature the "Antibiotics" that might manifest such effects could be far more widespread varied than those that you can buy in a pharmacy.