Journal of Microbiology

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 23–30 | Cite as

Synergistic growth in bacteria depends on substrate complexity

  • Yi-Jie Deng
  • Shiao Y. WangEmail author
Microbial Ecology and Environmental Microbiology


Both positive and negative interactions among bacteria take place in the environment. We hypothesize that the complexity of the substrate affects the way bacteria interact with greater cooperation in the presence of recalcitrant substrate. We isolated lignocellulolytic bacteria from salt marsh detritus and compared the growth, metabolic activity and enzyme production of pure cultures to those of three-species mixed cultures in lignocellulose and glucose media. Synergistic growth was common in lignocellulose medium containing carboxyl methyl cellulose, xylan and lignin but absent in glucose medium. Bacterial synergism promoted metabolic activity in synergistic mixed cultures but not the maximal growth rate (μ). Bacterial synergism also promoted the production of β-1,4-glucosidase but not the production of cellobiohydrolase or β-1,4-xylosidase. Our results suggest that the chemical complexity of the substrate affects the way bacteria interact. While a complex substrate such as lignocellulose promotes positive interactions and synergistic growth, a labile substrate such as glucose promotes negative interactions and competition. Synergistic interactions among indigenous bacteria are suggested to be important in promoting lignocellulose degradation in the environment.


bacterial synergism lignocellulose degradation bacterial activity enzyme production microbial interaction 


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Copyright information

© The Microbiological Society of Korea and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesThe University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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