Fungal networks shape dynamics of bacterial dispersal and community assembly in cheese rind microbiomes
Most studies of bacterial motility have examined small-scale (micrometer-centimeter) cell dispersal in monocultures. However, bacteria live in multispecies communities, where interactions with other microbes may inhibit or facilitate dispersal. Here, we demonstrate that motile bacteria in cheese rind microbiomes use physical networks created by filamentous fungi for dispersal, and that these interactions can shape microbial community structure. Serratia proteamaculans and other motile cheese rind bacteria disperse on fungal networks by swimming in the liquid layers formed on fungal hyphae. RNA-sequencing, transposon mutagenesis, and comparative genomics identify potential genetic mechanisms, including flagella-mediated motility, that control bacterial dispersal on hyphae. By manipulating fungal networks in experimental communities, we demonstrate that fungal-mediated bacterial dispersal can shift cheese rind microbiome composition by promoting the growth of motile over non-motile community members. Our single-cell to whole-community systems approach highlights the interactive dynamics of bacterial motility in multispecies microbiomes.