Faculty Publications


Bacterial Cyanogenesis: Impact on Biotic Interactions

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The ability of bacteria to influence organisms that they associate with via metabolite production is one of the hallmarks of microbial interactions. One metabolite of interest is the metabolic poison cyanide. Production of this metabolite is an unique characteristic of certain bacteria that inhabit a wide array of habitats ranging from the human body to the rhizosphere. This review focuses on four targets of cyanogenic bacteria: the human lung, plant pathogens, plants and invertebrates. For a number of cyanogenic bacteria, the contribution of cyanide to the interaction has been rigorously tested using mutants altered in cyanide production. Both deleterious and stimulatory effects of cyanogenic bacteria on other organisms have been documented. In addition, the HCN synthase-encoding gene cluster hcnABC has served as a marker of cyanogenic capability in the soil environment revealing both genetic diversity at this locus and regulatory influences by other organisms. The pervasive nature of cyanogenesis in a number of different ecological contexts encourages exploration of this bacterial ability and its possible optimization for improving human health, crop production and pest control.

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Journal of Applied Microbiology





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