Predators as lytic agents for biotechnology
Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is a small deltaproteobacterium that preys upon a wide variety of other Gram-negative bacteria. Its biphasic growth cycle includes a free-swimming attack phase and an intraperiplasmic growth phase, where Bdellovibrio replicates its DNA and grows using the prey as a nutrient source. Bdellovibrio is currently considered a living antibiotic and probiotic with promising applications in antimicrobial therapeutics. However, previous works have demonstrated the potential additional use of this predator as an efficient tool for intracellular bio-product recovery in bacteria. This was achieved using polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), bacterial polyesters composed by 3-hydroxy fatty acid monomers as model for intracellular bio-products. Using Bdellovibrio mutant strains (PHA depolymerase mutants) we were able to recover up to 80% of the PHA accumulated by the producer-prey bacteria. This innovative downstream process highlights how B. bacteriovorus can be used for different potential application and the importance to deeper understand its metabolism at system level.