Coordinator: Prof. Jyotsna Vijapurkar
Predatory bacteria are known to exist in all kinds of natural environments where they kill and consume other microbes. Even though bacterial predation is known to be ubiquitous in nature and has been proposed to be used in various environmental and medical uses, not much is known about the evolutionary impact of interactions between predatory bacteria and its prey. Using a predatory bacterium (Myxococcus xanthus) and its prey (Escherichia coli) we studied this interaction by mimicking a classic predator-prey interaction in an environment that supports only prey growth leaving the predator completely dependent on prey consumption for its survival. We coevolved the predator and prey in this environment for 25 cycles and looked at the phenotypic and genotypic responses of the evolved populations. Among the prey populations we found parallel evolutionary responses both at the phenotypic and genotypic levels. Coevolved prey populations were found to face selection pressure for a known virulence factor (mucoidy) and against an unrelated virulence factor (a protein called OmpT).
Ramith Nair is a Swiss National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellow at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He recently finished his PhD from ETH Zurich in Evolutionary Biology, for which he worked on “Biotic interactions of Myxococcus xanthus”. He is interested in, and is exploring, ways to contribute to science education in India. He has worked as a lecturer for the Department of Biotechnology at K.J. Somaiya college, teaching cell biology and basic microbiology to undergraduate students. He has also taught biology lab courses and mentored student projects in other universities.