09001524-Alison Robertson

Myxobacteria

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Myxobacteria belong to the bacterial group Proteobacteria and are Gram negative and aerobic. They are described as social bacteria as they interact well together to benefit the community. These bacteria were first described by Roland Thaxter in his paper that he published in 1892. He was an American Mycologist. A mycologist studies fungi. He was however also a plant pathologist and also a entomologist and bacteriologist. A plant pathologist studies plant diseases and the causes. An entomolgist studies insects. A bacteriologist studies bacteria. In his paper he compared the Myxobacteria with other organisms such as fungi and cellular slime molds.

Also known as Slime bacteria, they are mainly found in damp soil areas, and areas of decaying plant matter and animal waste products. They are able to decompose cellulose and microbial cells dead or alive to gain their nutrients. They do this using enzymes which they excrete. They are characterised by three main features: 1. their way of movement-gliding, which allows their colonies to form thin layers over a surface. 2. they have very good communication and a developed socail life. and 3. the way in which the cells act together to form myxospores.

They are known as slime bacteria as they produce their own slime and form colonies within it. This process alows them to travel together, in a 'Swarm'. This process of swarming allows bacterial populations of Myxobacteria to ensure that they are not fighting for nutrients when they could be in plentifull supply outwith the colony area.

In times of high levels, plentifull food supply, the bacteria show a pattern of travel in orderly swarms. In times of low food supply, the cells band together through the process of chemotaxis(a process by which bacteria move in response to a chemical stimulus) to form areas of high concentrations. These high concentrations of cells then develope using fruting bodies, and the cells then undergo a steady change to myxospores. Video of Myxospore formation These fruting bodies divide to produce cysts which are released into the environment to find favourable conditions for the Myxobacteria. This is how they reproduce.

Myxobacteria is a key group used as a model organism to investigate the interactions of cells and also the way in which they organise themselves before the process of forming myxospores begins.