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Title: Extracellular Metabolism Sets the Table for Microbial Cross-Feeding
SUMMARY The transfer of nutrients between cells, or cross-feeding, is a ubiquitous feature of microbial communities with emergent properties that influence our health and orchestrate global biogeochemical cycles. Cross-feeding inevitably involves the externalization of molecules. Some of these molecules directly serve as cross-fed nutrients, while others can facilitate cross-feeding. Altogether, externalized molecules that promote cross-feeding are diverse in structure, ranging from small molecules to macromolecules. The functions of these molecules are equally diverse, encompassing waste products, enzymes, toxins, signaling molecules, biofilm components, and nutrients of high value to most microbes, including the producer cell. As diverse as the externalized and transferred molecules are the cross-feeding relationships that can be derived from them. Many cross-feeding relationships can be summarized as cooperative but are also subject to exploitation. Even those relationships that appear to be cooperative exhibit some level of competition between partners. In this review, we summarize the major types of actively secreted, passively excreted, and directly transferred molecules that either form the basis of cross-feeding relationships or facilitate them. Drawing on examples from both natural and synthetic communities, we explore how the interplay between microbial physiology, environmental parameters, and the diverse functional attributes of extracellular molecules can influence cross-feeding dynamics. more » Though microbial cross-feeding interactions represent a burgeoning field of interest, we may have only begun to scratch the surface. « less
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Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
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National Science Foundation
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