Apr 15, 2019
382: Small Scavengers Suck Sizable Cells
Play • 8 min

This episode: Fungus-hunting amoebas have different strategies for detecting and preying on single-celled and filamentous fungi! Also, a personal note: I'm going to be taking a few weeks off the podcast to be able to take full advantage of spring, but I'll be back as soon as the weather gets too hot.

Download Episode (7.5 MB, 8.2 minutes) Show notes: Microbe of the episode: Chondromyces catenulatus Takeaways Amoebas in the microbial world are like powerful predators, going around gobbling up whatever they find that's small enough, by a process called phagocytosis, in which they surround their prey with their cell membrane and engulf it. It's similar to macrophages or white blood cells as part of our immune system in our bodies. The prey of amoebas includes bacteria, large viruses, and single-celled fungi called yeasts. In this study, scientists showed that some yeasts make great food sources for a certain kind of amoeba called Protostelium aurantium, while others either lack nutritional value or hide from the predators by covering up certain recognition molecules on their cell wall. They found that the amoebas could also consume the spores of filamentous fungi, and could even attack the filaments, or hyphae. In this latter case, instead of engulfing the large filaments, they pierced the cells and extracted their contents, an approach named ruphocytosis, from the Greek for suck or slurp. Journal Paper: Radosa S, Ferling I, Sprague JL, Westermann M, Hillmann F. The different morphologies of yeast and filamentous fungi trigger distinct killing and feeding mechanisms in a fungivorous amoeba. Environ Microbiol.

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