How to kill your rivals: microbial warfare mediated by the Type VI secretion system of Serratia marcescens

Microbiology Seminar Series

  • Date: Mar 1, 2021
  • Time: 16:00
  • Speaker: Prof. Sarah Coulthurst
  • University of Dundee, School of Life Sciences Reception, Scotland
  • Location: Zoom
  • Host: Dr. Andreas Diepold
  • Contact: andreas.diepold@mpi-marburg.mpg.de

The Type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a key weapon in the competitiveness and virulence of very many Gram-negative bacteria. Most T6SSs appear to be ‘anti-bacterial’, used to efficiently kill rival bacterial cells and provide a competitive advantage in a variety of polymicrobial niches. T6SSs deliver multiple, diverse toxins (‘effectors’) directly into target cells by a contraction-based firing mechanism. We have used the potent anti-bacterial T6SS of the opportunistic pathogen Serratia marcescens as a model to study the mechanisms and consequences of T6SS effector delivery into competitors. This has revealed a varied portfolio of effector toxins used for several forms of inter-microbial competition. In particular, we have characterised several new anti-bacterial effectors and also discovered that the S. marcescens T6SS not only targets bacterial competitors, but can also deploy anti-fungal effector proteins against microbial fungi.

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