Research Topic

Mechanisms of Prokaryotic Predation

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Prokaryotes that are able to prey upon other microbes were first described over 75 years ago, and since then predators have been identified in diverse microbial taxa. Most studies of micropredators in the previous century were phenomenological: identifying predatory organisms, describing conditions under ...

Prokaryotes that are able to prey upon other microbes were first described over 75 years ago, and since then predators have been identified in diverse microbial taxa. Most studies of micropredators in the previous century were phenomenological: identifying predatory organisms, describing conditions under which predation occurred and defining the range of potential prey organisms consumed. Since the turn of the century researchers have become increasingly interested in exploiting predatory organisms as biological control agents and as sources of antibiotics, and our understanding of micropredation has become more mechanistic, focusing on the molecular genetics of predation in a small number of model predators. Ecological models of predator-prey relationships have been developed and distinct strategies of predation have been identified, including epibiotic, endobiotic and group attack strategies. The application of `omics technologies has given us holistic insights into the biology of predatory organisms, their evolution and their ecology, revealing them to be key apex predators in microbial communities. Indeed, it is now possible to start probing the impacts of predation on microbial communities. Microbial predators have the potential to profoundly influence the composition of the microbiomes underpinning human health, disease, agriculture, environmental and industrial processes.

While our understanding of predation continues to grow, there is still much to learn about the molecular mechanisms of predation, the relevance of those mechanisms to predator biology/ecology and the potential for their exploitation to benefit mankind. The purpose of this Research Topic is therefore to gather together research and theories investigating the mechanisms of predation by prokaryotes. The new insights gained are likely to be crucial in allowing us to rationally perturb microbial community composition, and develop novel predation-inspired improvements in health, environment, industry and food security.

This Research Topic welcomes submissions of Original Research, Hypothesis and Theory papers, Reviews, Mini-reviews, Perspectives and Protocols. Appropriate areas for submission include, but are not limited to the isolation/description of novel predators, determinants of prey range, the distribution/abundance of predators and prey, secretion systems, toxins, digestive enzymes, pan-genomes, proteomes, metabolomes/metabolites, extracellular vesicles, outer membrane vesicles, signalling pathways and metabolic pathways associated with predation, engineering of predators or their secretions, and applications of predators or their products in healthcare, agriculture or industry.

Submissions may deal with any prokaryotic predators, defined here as organisms which kill prey organism(s), and which can grow on prey as sole nutrient source. This includes organisms that have not traditionally been described as predatory (for instance Streptomyces). We also deliberately define predatory mechanisms loosely - the mechanisms in question could be evolutionary, molecular genetic, population genetic, ecological, biochemical or physical. Submissions might provide insights into the biology of predation, or could provide predator-derived insights for biotechnology/pharmacology. We particularly encourage submissions addressing the metabolic mechanisms by which predators grow on prey biomass, predation-inspired strategies for controlling prey organisms, assessments of the impact of predation on microbial communities, predatory extracellular vesicles and other secretions, and studies that address mechanisms of prey specificity.

The Topic Editors would like to acknowledge Dr. Paul Livingstone for his contribution in designing and organizing this editorial project.


Keywords: Antimicrobial, Microbiome, Micropredator, Predator, Prey


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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