A bacterium found in sewage sludge uses its tail-like flagellum to lasso a symbiotic archaeon and keep it close at bay so that the two microbial partners can synchronize their metabolism, a Japanese research team reports in the Mar. 20 issue of __Science__.
Scanning electron micrograph of
Pelotomaculum thermopropionicum

Image: PNNL
The paper is "important for understanding how organisms that are so incredibly different, at least phylogenetically, are able to cooperate," linkurl:Joseph Grzymski,;http://www.dri.edu/People/Joe.Grzymski/ a microbiologist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, who was not involved in the study, told __The Scientist__. __Pelotomaculum thermopropionicum__, a fermenting, anaerobic bacterium found in wastewater treatment reactors, and __Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus__, a helper archaeon that takes the bacterium's hydrogen byproducts and turns them into methane, form a type of mutually-beneficial relationship based on nutrition known as syntrophy. This prokaryotic partnership was known to be mediated through some sort of stringy filaments, but...

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