Mutual tolerances of fungi and bacteria within stressed microbial communities

John E. Hallsworth, Elias Hakalehto

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Mutual tolerances of fungi and bacteria within stressed microbial communities

Elias Hakalehto

Department of Agricultural Sciences, University Helsinki, PB 27, 00014 Helsinki, Finland

John E. Hallsworth

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences; Queen’s University Belfast,
Medical Biology Centre; 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast; BT9 7BL; Northern Ireland

Since the pioneering studies of Alexander Fleming there has been a temptation to assume that interactions between fungi and bacteria are always or, at least, usually antagonistic. Such microbes are known to deploy toxic substances and stressors in a Sisyphean cycle of biological warfare between microbial populations, and which can determine the composition of their communities. However, it is also known that, in many habitats (such as soils), phylogenetically diverse microbes can sustainably coexist, jointly partaking in the exploitation of resources. Within the equillibrium created by the omnipresent antimicrobial activities, competition for resources, co-metabolism of substrates (etc), there is considerable temporal and spatial flux. Fungal mycelia can extend into, or travel from one to another type of, soil microhabitat(s) and can thereby access and release potential substrates and other potential resources; some species of bacteria have the metabolic versatility to degrade relatively recalcitrant substances. We characterized interactions between soil fungi and bacteria in vitro under standard conditions, and under habitat-relevant stresses, using a Portable Microbe Enrichment Unit. This revealed intimate metabolic interactions between members of these phylogenetic groups, as well as an enhanced stress biology of the diverse taxa. Stressors produced by bacteria, such as Lactococcus lactis, were nevertheless found to constrain fungal growth. The dualistic concept of competition-versus-cooperation may be inadequate to explain the complexity and subtly of fungi:bacteria interactions, the implications of which extend throughout microbial stress biology, agricultural biotechnology, ecosystems function, pathogen biology, food spoilage, and other fields.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe Second International Symposium on Fungal Stress (2017): The Second International Symposium on Fungal Stress - Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil
Duration: 08 May 201712 Dec 2017


ConferenceThe Second International Symposium on Fungal Stress (2017)
Abbreviated titleISFUS-2017


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