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Front Microbiol. 2014 Jul 8;5:350. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00350. eCollection 2014.

Nutrient cross-feeding in the microbial world.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA USA.


The stability and function of a microbial community depends on nutritional interactions among community members such as the cross-feeding of essential small molecules synthesized by a subset of the population. In this review, we describe examples of microbe-microbe and microbe-host cofactor cross-feeding, a type of interaction that influences the forms of metabolism carried out within a community. Cofactor cross-feeding can contribute to both the health and nutrition of a host organism, the virulence and persistence of pathogens, and the composition and function of environmental communities. By examining the impact of shared cofactors on microbes from pure culture to natural communities, we stand to gain a better understanding of the interactions that link microbes together, which may ultimately be a key to developing strategies for manipulating microbial communities with human health, agricultural, and environmental implications.


cofactor; corrinoid; microbial communities; microbial interactions; nutrient cross-feeding

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