In the world of microbes, fascinating characters resembling supernatural villains exist, and one of them is Micavibrio aeruginosavorus, a predatory bacterium that acts like a vampire but in a microscopic form.

The discovery of Micavibrio Aeruginosavorus

Researchers from the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Science uncovered a remarkable bacterium with a relentless, predatory instinct (Figure 1). Micavibrio Aeruginosavorus first appeared over three decades ago in wastewater, but studying it has been challenging, primarily due to its feeding habits. The bacterium feeds on other bacteria, making it difficult to study in a lab setting because it often gets contaminated by its prey.

Micavibrio Aeruginosavorus leech on Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
Figure 1. Micavibrio aeruginosavorus (yellow), attached and leeched on a Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium (purple), surrounded by dead P. aeruginosa cells (grey). The upper right corner represents the key features of the M. aeruginosavorus chromosome.

Feeding Behaviour of Micavibrio Aeruginosavorus

Micavibrio aeruginosavorus is a microbial hunter that latches onto the outer cell wall of its prey (Figure 2). It drains vital nutrients and energy, leaving the target bacteria lifeless. Moreover, in its attack phase, it still must keep looking for its next prey. Despite its vampire-like appearance, this feeding process could offer a potential solution for bacterial solutions that affect humans. These vampire bacteria exhibit a broad-spectrum predatory behaviour, they have been observed to target various bacterial strains, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Visual representation of the Predation Cycle of Predatory Bacteria.

Battling Bacterial Infections

P. aeruginosa causes chronic lung infections in individuals suffering from Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Using these microbial hunters could revolutionise the battle against CF-related lung complications, and could dramatically enhance the life expectancy and quality of life for individuals with CF.

Traditional antibiotics often result in antibiotic resistance, leading to the emerge of “superbugs” – strains of bacteria that can survive against multiple forms of medication. The possibility of harnessing this vampire bacteria presents a promising new approach in combating drug-resistant bacterial infections in ongoing battle against microbial adversaries. Additionally, this bacterium could have applications in other industries by potentially preventing the formation of biofilms in medical devices, pipes, and more.

Despite its fearsome nature, this microbial vampire emerges as a beam of hope in a word full of relentless bacterial infections and the rise of antibiotic resistance.







Mitchell et al., (2020). Compounds affecting predation by and viability of predatory bacteria. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 104. 10.1007/s00253-020-10530-1.




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