Bdellovibrio and Like Organisms Are Predictors of Microbiome Diversity in Distinct Host Groups

  • Julia Johnke
  • Sebastian Fraune
  • Thomas C. G. Bosch
  • Ute Hentschel
  • Hinrich SchulenburgEmail author


Biodiversity is generally believed to be a main determinant of ecosystem functioning. This principle also applies to the microbiome and could consequently contribute to host health. According to ecological theory, communities are shaped by top predators whose direct and indirect interactions with community members cause stability and diversity. Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are a neglected group of predatory bacteria that feed on Gram-negative bacteria and can thereby influence microbiome composition. We asked whether BALOs can predict biodiversity levels in microbiomes from distinct host groups and environments. We demonstrate that genetic signatures of BALOs are commonly found within the 16S rRNA reads from diverse host taxa. In many cases, their presence, abundance, and especially richness are positively correlated with overall microbiome diversity. Our findings suggest that BALOs can act as drivers of microbial alpha-diversity and should therefore be considered candidates for the restoration of microbiomes and the prevention of dysbiosis.


Biodiversity Predator Prey Microbiome Bdellovibrio 



We are grateful for advice from members of the Schulenburg group and the Collaborative Research Center CRC1182 on Origin and Function of Metaorganisms.

Funding Information

This work was funded by the CRC1182, projects A4 and B2.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Data Availability

The nucleotide sequence data reported are available in the EMBL databases under the accession number PRJEB30476.

Supplementary material

248_2019_1395_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (483 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 483 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary Ecology and Genetics, Zoological InstituteCAU KielKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Zoological InstituteCAU KielKielGermany
  3. 3.RD3 Marine MicrobiologyGEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research KielKielGermany
  4. 4.Section of Marine BiologyCAU KielKielGermany

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