Autocides produced by Myxococcus xanthus

M. Varon, S. Cohen, E. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ethanol extracts of Myxococcus xanthus contained several substances, referred to as autocides, which were bactericical to the producing strain but showed no activity against other bacteria. The autocides were produced by growing cells and remained largely cell bound throughout the growth cycle; ca. 5% of the autocidal activity was found in the supernatant fluid at the time cell lysis began. The autocides were separated by sequential-column and this-layer chromatography into five active fractions (AM I through AM V). Each of the fractions was at least 20 times more active against M. xanthus than against the other gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria tested. AM I, A IV, and Am V were inactive against yeasts, whereas a mixture of fractions AM II and AM III was active against Rhodotorula sp. AM I reversibly inhibited the growth of M. xanthus; at higher concentrations of AM I, the cells lysed within 1 h. The lowest concentration of AM IV that showed any activity caused rapid cell death and lysis. The mode of action of the major autocide, AM V, was different from that of AM I and AM IV. During the initial 3 h of treatment, the viable count of M. xanthus cells remained constant; during the next few hours killing occurred without lysis; within 24 h lysis was complete. The autocidal activity of each of the fractions was expressed when the cells were suspended in buffer, as well as in growth medium. The possible role of autocsides in developmental lysis of M. xanthus is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1150
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1984


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