Microbial interactions: ecology in a molecular perspective
The microorganism-microorganism or microorganism-host interactions are the key strategy to colonize and establish in a variety of different environments. These interactions involve all ecological aspects, including physiochemical changes, metabolite exchange, metabolite conversion, signaling, chemotaxis and genetic exchange resulting in genotype selection. In addition, the establishment in the environment depends on the species diversity, since high functional redundancy in the microbial community increases the competitive ability of the community, decreasing the possibility of an invader to establish in this environment. Therefore, these associations are the result of a co-evolution process that leads to the adaptation and specialization, allowing the occupation of different niches, by reducing biotic and abiotic stress or exchanging growth factors and signaling. Microbial interactions occur by the transference of molecular and genetic information, and many mechanisms can be involved in this exchange, such as secondary metabolites, siderophores, quorum sensing system, biofilm formation, and cellular transduction signaling, among others. The ultimate unit of interaction is the gene expression of each organism in response to an environmental (biotic or abiotic) stimulus, which is responsible for the production of molecules involved in these interactions. Therefore, in the present review, we focused on some molecular mechanisms involved in the microbial interaction, not only in microbial-host interaction, which has been exploited by other reviews, but also in the molecular strategy used by different microorganisms in the environment that can modulate the establishment and structuration of the microbial community.