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Trait Differentiation within the Fungus-Feeding (Mycophagous) Bacterial Genus Collimonas

The genus Collimonas consists of facultative, fungus-feeding (mycophagous) bacteria. To date, 3 species (C. fungivorans, C. pratensis and C. arenae) have been described and over 100 strains have been isolated from different habitats. Functional traits of Collimonas bacteria that are potentially involved in interactions with soil fungi mostly negatively (fungal inhibition e.g.), but also positively (mineral weathering e.g.), affect fungal fitness. We hypothesized that variation in such traits between Collimonas strains leads to different mycophagous bacterial feeding patterns. We investigated a) whether phylogenetically closely related Collimonas strains possess similar traits, b) how far phylogenetic resolution influences the detection of phylogenetic signal (possession of similar traits by related strains) and c) if there is a pattern of co-occurrence among the studied traits. We measured genetically encoded (nifH genes, antifungal collimomycin gene cluster e.g.) as well as phenotypically expressed traits (chitinase- and siderophore production, fungal inhibition and others) and related those to a high-resolution phylogeny (MLSA), constructed by sequencing the housekeeping genes gyrB and rpoB and concatenating those with partial 16S rDNA sequences. Additionally, high-resolution and 16S rDNA derived phylogenies were compared. We show that MLSA is superior to 16SrDNA phylogeny when analyzing trait distribution and relating it to phylogeny at fine taxonomic resolution (a single bacterial genus). We observe that several traits involved in the interaction of collimonads and their host fungus (fungal inhibition e.g.) carry phylogenetic signal. Furthermore, we compare Collimonas trait possession with sister genera like Herbaspirillum and Janthinobacterium.

Ballhausen, M.B.; Vandamme, P.; de Boer, W. 2016. Trait Differentiation within the Fungus-Feeding (Mycophagous) Bacterial Genus Collimonas. PLoSONE 11(6): e0157552.