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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2009;63:523-39. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.091208.073346.

Predatory lifestyle of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.

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Institute of Genetics, School of Biology, University of Nottingham, Medical School, Nottingham NG7 2UH, United Kingdom.


Bdellovibrio species are naturally predatory, small, motile, Deltaproteobacteria that invade the periplasm of other larger gram-negative bacteria, killing and digesting them. Bdellovibrio grows and divides inside the prey cell, in a structure called a bdelloplast, which then lyses, releasing the Bdellovibrio to prey upon more bacteria. This capability makes Bdellovibrio a potential therapeutic agent, but since its discovery in the 1960s it has not been applied in this way. This review considers what is known postgenomically about Bdellovibrio and its predatory lifestyle, drawing also from what was learned by the excellent microbial physiology work of the early Bdellovibrio researchers. Recent work on the diversity and evolution of predatory bdellovibrios, the role of surface structures in predation, and the ongoing questions about how Bdellovibrio switches between axenic and predatory growth and how its predatory activities may be tempered in the wild, as well as suggestions for future research priorities, are discussed.

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