Predatory bacteria

Predatory interactions are ubiquitous in nature. They do not only exist between animals, they also
occur between 
microbes.  Predatory bacteria are widely distributed, they are diverse, and they
exhibit a variety of hunting strategies. 
Among them, the Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs)
form a fascinating group of organisms: they are obligate
 predatory bacteria of gram negative cells
                                                        and have unusual life cycles. We study the 
ecology and the life
                                                        cycle of these microbial hunters. We aim at understanding their 
role in nature, and what renders them predatory. With that                                                                                                                    knowledge, we are investigating applications to fight-off
                                                         pathogens and to control microbial biomass. 

The obligate predatory lifestyle

BALO cells shift from a free living, highly motile and non-replicating state to a sessile, prey-bound growth and division state after externally binding to or after invading a prey cell.  We study mechanisms by which the predator recognizes the prey, how its cell cycle and metabolism communicate to achieve the exploitation of guarded "quantum" packets of food (prey cells). 

The ecology of bacterial predators

BALOs are found in many habitats. They are present in most terrestrial and aquatic environments. However, our understanding of their diversity, and of their "place" in the trophic network is fragmentary. We study who they are (diversity), with whom they interact (who preys on whom), and how the physical, chemical and biological environment affects predation to decipher predator-prey dynamics at various levels of community and of spatial complexity: From defined single predator-single prey grown under various conditions, to structured environments (e.g. soil microcosms), to tracking multiple predators and prey in wastewater treatment plants.


Bacterial predators to fight-off pathogens

BALOs, as microbial predators are potential biocontrol agents against pathogenic bacteria. We explore this potential plant pathogens that are active on the leaf as well as on underground parts of plants as well as their potential to harm agricultural insect pest by disrupting the insect's gut microbiota.


Last publications

  1. Youdkes, D., Helman, Y., Burdman, S., Matan, O., and Jurkevitch, E. Potential control of potato soft rot disease by the
    obligate predators Bdellovibrio and like organisms. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. In press doi:10.1128/AEM.02543-19.


  2.  Petrenko, M., Friedman, S.P., Fluss, R., Pasternak, Z., Huppert, A., and Jurkevitch, E. 2019. Spatial heterogeneity stabilizes predator-prey interactions at the microscale while patch connectivity controls their outcome. Environmental Microbiology. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14887. PMID: 31814273.

  3. Sathyamoorthy, R., Maoz, A., Pasternak, Z., Im, H., Huppert, A., Kadouri, D., and Jurkevitch, E. 2019. Bacterial predation under changing viscosities. Environmental Microbiology. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14696.

  4. Cohen, Y., Pasternak, Z., Johnke, J., Abed-Rabbo, A., Kushmaro, A., Chatzinotas, A., and Jurkevitch, E. 2019. Bacteria and micro-eukaryotes are differentially segregated in sympatric wastewater microhabitats. Environmental Microbiology. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14548.

  5. Segev, E., Pasternak, Z., Ben Sasson, T., Jurkevitch, E., and Gonen, M., 2018. Automatic identification of optimal marker genes for phenotypic and taxonomic groups of microorganisms. PloSOne

  6. Avidan, O., Petrenko, M., Becker, R., Beck, S., Linscheid, M., Pietrokovski, S., and Jurkevitch, E. 2017. Identification and characterization of differentially-regulated Type IVb pilin genes necessary for predation in obligate bacterial predators. Scientific Reports 7:1, 1013.  DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-00951-w.

  7. Johnke, J. Baron, M., de Leeuw, M. , Kushmaro, A., Jurkevitch, E., Harms, H., and Chatzinotas, A.  2017. A generalist protist predator enables coexistence in multitrophic predator-prey systems containing a phage and the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 5, doi:10.3389/fevo.2017.00124.

  8. Dattner, I., Miller, E., Petrenko, M., Kadouri, D.E., Jurkevitch, E., and Huppert, A. 2017. Modelling and parameter inference of predator-prey dynamics in heterogeneous environments using the direct integral approach. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2016.0525.

  9. Hol, F.J., Rotem, O., Jurkevitch, E., Dekker, C. and Koster, D.A. 2016. Bacterial predator–prey dynamics in microscale patchy landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  283: 20152154.

  10. Rotem, O., Nesper, J., Borovok, I., Gorovits, R., Kolot, M., Pasternak, Z., and Jurkevitch, E. 2016. An extended cyclic di-GMP network in the predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. Journal of Bacteriology, 1:127-137.

  11. Martínez, V., Herencias, C., Jurkevitch, E., and Prieto, M. A. 2016. Engineering a predatory bacterium as a proficient killer agent for intracellular bio-products recovery: The case of the polyhydroxyalkanoates. Scientific reports, 6.

  12. Pasternak, Z., Ben Sasson, T., Cohen, Y., Segev, E., and Jurkevitch, E.  2015. A new comparative-genomics approach for defining phenotype-specific indicators reveals specific genetic markers in predatory bacteria. PloSOne, 10: e0142933.

  13. Rotem, O., Pasternak, Z., Shimoni, E., Belausov, E., Porat, Z., Pietrokovski, S., and Jurkevitch, E. 2015. Cell-cycle progress in obligate predatory bacteria is dependent upon sequential sensing of prey recognition and prey quality cues. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 112:E6028-6037.