Microbial Predator-Prey Associations

Bacteria are constantly exposed to a multitude of threats: bacteriophages can infect and kill bacteria; amoebae, nematodes, and insects can prey on prokaryotes, and competitor strains fight for the same resources. In order to survive in this battlefield, bacteria have evolved highly effective defense mechanisms. Because killing and deterring the antagonists are powerful ways to thrive in this environment, bacteria display a great diversity of toxins and antibiotics that selectively act on their enemies. Amoebae are voracious and ubiquitous predators to bacteria that cause constant depletion of huge bacterial reservoirs. This puts both organisms under strong evolutionary selection pressure: the bacteria have evolved mechanisms to prevent grazing and the amoebae must counteract or surmount these mechanisms in order to survive.

We focus on the interactions between the eukaryotic soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and various soil bacteria. In particular, we are interested in bacterial secondary metabolites that kill the amoebal predator. We use modern spectroscopic techniques as well as chemical synthesis to determine the structures of these compounds. Additionally, we use whole genome sequencing of the producer strain as well as mutational analyses to investigate the biosynthesis and regulation of these metabolites.

For more information please visit our webpage: www.stallforth-lab.de


Dr. Martin Klapper


Phone: +49 3641 532-1564 Email: martin.klapper@leibniz-hki.de

Dr. Ruchira Mukherji


Phone: +49 3641 532-1128 Email: ruchira.mukherji@leibniz-hki.de

Sebastian Pflanze

Doctoral Researcher

Phone: +49 3641 532-1552 Email: sebastian.pflanze@leibniz-hki.de


Klapper M, Schlabach K, Paschold A, Zhang S, Chowdhury S, Menzel KD, Rosenbaum MA, Stallforth P (2020) Biosynthesis of pseudomonas-derived butenolides. Angew Chem Int Ed 59(14), 5607-5610. PubMed Open Access PDF

Klapper M, Paschold A, Zhang S, Weigel C, Dahse HM, Götze S, Pace S, König S, Rao Z, Reimer L, Werz O, Stallforth P (2019) Bioactivity and mode of action of bacterial tetramic acids. ACS Chem Biol 14(8), 1693-1697. PubMed

Arp J, Götze S, Mukherji R, Mattern DJ, Garcia-Altares M, Klapper M, Brock DA, Brakhage AA, Strassmann JE, Queller DC, Bardl B, Willing K, Peschel G, Stallforth P (2018) Synergistic activity of co-secreted natural products from amoebae-associated bacteria. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 115(15), 3758-3763. PubMed Open Access

Klapper M, Arp J, Günther M, Stallforth P (2018) The role of bacterial natural products in predator defense. Synlett 29(5), 537-541. (Review)

Klapper M, Braga D, Lackner G, Herbst R, Stallforth P (2018) Bacterial alkaloid biosynthesis: Structural diversity via a minimalistic nonribosomal peptide synthetase. Cell Chem Biol 25(6), 659-665. PubMed Open Access

Götze S, Herbst-Irmer R, Klapper M, Görls H, Schneider KRA, Barnett R, Burks T, Neu U, Stallforth P (2017) Structure, Biosynthesis, and Biological Activity of the Cyclic Lipopeptide Anikasin ACS Chem Biol 12(10), 2498-2502. PubMed

Klapper M, Götze S, Barnett R, Willing K, Stallforth P (2016) Bacterial alkaloids prevent amoebal predation. Angew Chem Int Ed 55(31), 8944-8947. PubMed Supplement

Stallforth P, Clardy J (2014) Atlas for drug discovery. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111(10), 3655-3656. PubMed

Stallforth P, Brock DA, Cantley AM, Tian X, Queller DC, Strassmann JE, Clardy J (2013) A bacterial symbiont is converted from an inedible producer of beneficial molecules into food by a single mutation in the gacA gene. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(36), 14528-14533. PubMed

Stallforth P, Clardy J (2013) X-ray crystallography: One size fits most. Nature 495(7442), 456-457. PubMed