Bacteriocin diversity: ecological and evolutionary perspectives.


Riley MA, Wertz JE.


The bacteriocin family is the most abundant and diverse group of bacterial defense systems. Bacteriocins range from the well-studied narrow spectrum, high molecular weight colicins produced by Escherichia coli and the short polypeptide lantibiotics of lactic acid bacteria to the relatively unknown halocins produced almost universally by the haolobacteria. The abundance and diversity of this potent arsenal of weapons is clear. Less clear is their evolutionary origins and the role they play in mediating microbial interactions. The goal of this review is to explore what we know about the evolution and ecology of the best-characterized family of bacteriocins, the colicins. We summarize current knowledge of how such extraordinary protein diversity arose and is maintained in microbial populations and what role these toxins play in mediating microbial population-level and community-level dynamics.

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