Predation is one of the most prevalent and ancient forms of antagonistic interaction which pervades all ecosystems at all levels of biological organization. Studies with higher eukaryotes have demonstrated the significance of predator-prey interactions in speciation events, evolution of virulence, evolution of pathogenesis, evolution of diversity, evolution of cooperation, evolution of multiple levels of selection, and many more important events during the course of evolution of life on our planet. However, unlike the historical interest in the studying predator-prey interactions among higher eukaryotes, the importance of microbial predator-prey interactions has been recognized relatively recently. We study bacterial predator-prey interactions in natural populations of bacteria, and using lab evolution experiments.
We use M. xanthus as a model organism to study bacterial predation. M. xanthus is a predatory bacterium that kills and eats other microbes by secreting antimicrobial compounds and forms spore-filled multicellular fruiting bodies upon starvation. M. xanthus predation is mediated by contact-dependent as well as contact-independent mechanisms such as toxins, antibiotics, lytic enzymes, and secretion systems.
Specifically, we study the influence of translational and transcriptional errors, genetic diversity, environmental fluctuations, complex life-cycle, and ecological conditions on the evolution of mechanisms of bacterial predation. Please contact Samay or any lab member if you want to know about our research.
For more information, please visit our website, www.redqueenlab.com .
Int. PhD student
Bhoomika Ashok Bhat
Nived Krishnan S
Junior Research Fellow
PhD student co-supervised with Anjana Badrinarayanan at NCBS, Bangalore