Phenotypic heterogeneity in Streptomyces colonies

Paul A. Hoskisson, Francisco Barona-Gómez, Daniel E. Rozen

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Streptomyces are a large genus of multicellular bacteria best known for their prolific production of bioactive natural products. In addition, they play key roles in the mineralisation of insoluble resources, such as chitin and cellulose. Because of their multicellular mode of growth, colonies of interconnected hyphae extend over a large area that may experience different conditions in different parts of the colony. Here, we argue that within-colony phenotypic heterogeneity can allow colonies to simultaneously respond to divergent inputs from resources or competitors that are spatially and temporally dynamic. We discuss causal drivers of heterogeneity, including competitors, precursor availability, metabolic diversity and division of labour, that facilitate divergent phenotypes within Streptomyces colonies. We discuss the adaptive causes and consequences of within-colony heterogeneity, highlight current knowledge (gaps) and outline key questions for future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102448
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Early online date5 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2024


  • Streptomyces
  • bioactive natural products
  • phenotypes
  • heterogeneity


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