Myxococcus xanthus genetic mutants with characterized phenotypes were analysed for the ability to prey on susceptible bacteria. Quantification of predatory ability was scored by a newly developed method under conditions in which prey bacteria provided the only source of nutrients. These results were corroborated by data derived using a previously published protocol that measures predation in the presence of limited external nutrients. First, early developmental regulatory mutants were examined, because their likely functions in assessing the local nutrient status were predicted to be also important for predation. The results showed that predation efficiency is reduced by 64-80% for mutants of three A-signalling components, AsgA, AsgC and AsgE, but not for AsgB. This suggests that an Asg regulon function that is separate from A-signal production is needed for predation. Besides the Asg components, mutations in the early developmental genes sdeK and csgA were also consistently observed to reduce predatory efficacy by 36 and 33%, respectively. In contrast, later developmental components, such as DevRS, 4406 and PhoP4, did not appear to play significant roles in predation. The predatory abilities of mutants defective for motility were also tested. The data showed that adventurous, but not social, motility is required for predation in the assay. Also, mutants for components in the chemotaxis-like Frz system were found to be reduced in predation efficiency by between 62 and 85%. In sum, it was demonstrated here that defects in development and development-related processes affect the ability of M. xanthus to prey on other bacteria.
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