Streptomyces produce geosmin and MIB to attract bugs in order to promote spore dispersal

A new study on the ecological role of geosmin and MIB was recently published by Becher et al in Nature Microbiology. The authors show that geosmin and MIB “mediate interactions of apparent mutual benefit between streptomycetes and springtails (Collembola). In field experiments, springtails were attracted to odours emitted by Streptomyces colonies. Geosmin and 2-MIB in these odours induce electrophysiological responses in the antennae of the model springtail Folsomia candida, which is also attracted to both compounds. Moreover, the genes for geosmin and 2-MIB synthases are under the direct control of sporulation-specific transcription factors, constraining emission of the odorants to sporulating colonies. F. candida feeds on the Streptomyces colonies and disseminates spores both via faecal pellets and through adherence to its hydrophobic cuticle. The results indicate that geosmin and 2-MIB production is an integral part of the sporulation process, completing the Streptomyces life cycle by facilitating dispersal of spores by soil arthropods” (excerpt taken from the abstract).


Becher, P.G., Verschut, V., Bibb, M.J. et al. Developmentally regulated volatiles geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol attract a soil arthropod to Streptomyces bacteria promoting spore dispersal. Nat Microbiol (2020).

QuickTime video showing springtails (F. candida) feeding on S. coelicolor biomass.

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