The importance of volatile organic compounds for functioning of microbes is receiving increased research attention. However, to date very little is known on how inter-specific bacterial interactions effect volatiles production as most studies have been focused on volatiles produced by monocultures of well-described bacterial genera. In this study we aimed to understand how inter-specific bacterial interactions affect the composition, production and activity of volatiles. Four phylogenetically different bacterial species namely: Chryseobacterium, Dyella, Janthinobacterium, and Tsukamurella were selected. Earlier results had shown that pairwise combinations of these bacteria induced antimicrobial activity in agar media whereas this was not the case for monocultures. In the current study, we examined if these observations were also reflected by the production of antimicrobial volatiles. Thus, the identity and antimicrobial activity of volatiles produced by the bacteria were determined in monoculture as well in pairwise combinations. Antimicrobial activity of the volatiles was assessed against fungal, oomycetal, and bacterial model organisms. Our results revealed that inter-specific bacterial interactions affected volatiles blend composition. Fungi and oomycetes showed high sensitivity to bacterial volatiles whereas the effect of volatiles on bacteria varied between no effects, growth inhibition to growth promotion depending on the volatile blend composition. In total 35 volatile compounds were detected most of which were sulfur-containing compounds. Two commonly produced sulfur-containing volatile compounds (dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide) were tested for their effect on three target bacteria. Here, we display the importance of inter-specific interactions on bacterial volatiles production and their antimicrobial activities.
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