Seminar Details

Teflon bacteria: The most abundant bacterium in the ocean evades predation by slipping through mucous nets




Ayelet Dadon-Pilosof - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Ruppin Academic Center


Pelagibacter ubique is the most abundant bacterium in the ocean. Its success has so far been attributed to adaptation to oligotrophic waters where its small size allows efficient nutrient uptake. The application of novel in situ sampling techniques indicates that P. ubique can evade filtration by both pelagic and benthic tunicates by slipping through their mucous nets. We suggest that bacteria belonging to the SAR11 clade, most notably P. ubique, have a “Teflon-like” surface that is much less hydrophobic than that of other planktonic bacteria. We propose that in order to evade predation, free-living planktonic bacteria have traded their ability to stick to nutrient-rich organic particles, thereby reducing their growth rate, for a non-sticky cell surface that reduces their mortality. These traits may further explain their extraordinary abundance in the ocean.

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