Bacteria of the genus Collimonas are widely distributed in soils, although at low densities. In the laboratory, they were shown to be mycophagous, that is, they are able to grow at the expense of living hyphae. However, so far the importance of mycophagy for growth and survival of collimonads in natural soil habitats is unknown. Using a Collimonas-specific real-time PCR assay, we show here that the invasion of field soils by fungal hyphae (Absidia sp.) resulted in a short-term, significant increase (average fourfold) of indigenous collimonads. No such responses were observed for other soil bacteria studied (Pseudomonas, Burkholderia, PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis patterns of total bacteria and Burkholderia). Hence, it appears that the stimulation of growth of Collimonas bacteria by fungal hyphae is not common among other soil bacteria. In the same field soils, Trichoderma, a fungal genus known for mycophagous (mycoparasitic) growth, increased upon introduction of Absidia hyphae. Hence, mycophagous growth by Collimonas and Trichoderma can occur in the same soils. However, in controlled experiments (sand microcosms), collimonads appeared to have a negative effect on mycophagous growth of a Trichoderma strain. The effect of mycophagous growth of collimonads on fungal biomass dynamics was studied in sand microcosms using the same Absidia sp. as a test fungus. The growth of collimonads did not cause a significant reduction in the Absidia biomass. Overall, the study indicates that mycophagous nutrition may be important for collimonads in natural soils, but the impact on fungal biomass turnover is likely to be minor.
Höppener-Ogawa, S., Leveau, J. H. J., Van Veen, J. A., & De Boer, W. (2009). Mycophagous growth of Collimonas bacteria in natural soils, impact on fungal biomass turnover and interactions with mycophagous Trichoderma fungi. ISME Journal, 3(2), 190-198. https://doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2008.97