- To establish and maintain an ecological niche, bacteria employ a wide range of pathways to inhibit the growth of their microbial competitors. Some of these pathways, such as those that produce antibiotics or bacteriocins, exert toxicity on nearby cells in a cell contact-independent manner. More recently, however, several mechanisms of interbacterial antagonism requiring cell-to-cell contact have been identified. This form of microbial competition is mediated by antibacterial protein toxins whose delivery to target bacteria uses protein secretion apparatuses embedded within the cell envelope of toxin-producing bacteria. In this review, we discuss recent work implicating the bacterial Type I, IV, VI, and VII secretion systems in the export of antibacterial 'effector' proteins that mediate contact-dependent interbacterial antagonism.