Inter-kingdom encounters: recent advances in molecular bacterium–fungus interactions
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- Tarkka, M.T., Sarniguet, A. & Frey-Klett, P. Curr Genet (2009) 55: 233. doi:10.1007/s00294-009-0241-2
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Interactions between bacteria and fungi are well known, but it is often underestimated how intimate and decisive such associations can be with respect to behaviour and survival of each participating organism. In this article we review recent advances in molecular bacterium–fungus interactions, combining the data of different model systems. Emphasis is given to the positive or negative consequences these interactions have on the microbe accommodating plants and animals. Intricate mechanisms of antagonism and tolerance have emerged, being as important for the biological control of plants against fungal diseases as for the human body against fungal infections. Bacterial growth promoters of fungal mycelium have been characterized, and these may as well assist plant-fungus mutualism as disease development in animals. Some of the toxins that have been previously associated with fungi are actually produced by endobacteria, and the mechanisms that lie behind the maintenance of such exquisite endosymbioses are fascinating. Bacteria do cause diseases in fungi, and a synergistic action between bacterial toxins and extracellular enzymes is the hallmark of such diseases. The molecular study of bacterium–fungus associations has expanded our view on microbial communication, and this promising field shows now great potentials in medicinal, agricultural and biotechnological applications.