Antibacterial Weapons: Targeted Destruction in the Microbiota

Trends Microbiol. 2018 Apr;26(4):329-338. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2018.01.006. Epub 2018 Feb 13.


The intestinal microbiota plays an important role in health, particularly in promoting intestinal metabolic capacity and in maturing the immune system. The intestinal microbiota also mediates colonization resistance against pathogenic bacteria, hence protecting the host from infections. In addition, some bacterial pathogens deliver toxins that target phylogenetically related or distinct bacterial species in order to outcompete and establish within the microbiota. The most widely distributed weapons include bacteriocins, as well as contact-dependent growth inhibition and type VI secretion systems. In this review, we discuss important advances about the impact of such antibacterial systems on shaping the intestinal microbiota.

Keywords: bacteriocin; competition; microbiota; niche colonization; type VI secretion system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Bacteriocins / pharmacology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Type VI Secretion Systems


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacteriocins
  • Type VI Secretion Systems