Friends or Foes-Microbial Interactions in Nature

Microorganisms are present in nearly every niche on Earth and mainly do not exist solely but form communities of single or mixed species. Within such microbial populations and between the microbes and a eukaryotic host, various microbial interactions take place in an ever-changing environment. Those microbial interactions are crucial for a successful establishment and maintenance of a microbial population. The basic unit of interaction is the gene expression of each organism in this community in response to biotic or abiotic stimuli. Differential gene expression is responsible for producing exchangeable molecules involved in the interactions, ultimately leading to community behavior. Cooperative and competitive interactions within bacterial communities and between the associated bacteria and the host are the focus of this review, emphasizing microbial cell-cell communication (quorum sensing). Further, metagenomics is discussed as a helpful tool to analyze the complex genomic information of microbial communities and the functional role of different microbes within a community and to identify novel biomolecules for biotechnological applications.


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