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Edlund, A, Loesgen S, Fenical W, Jensen PR.  2011.  Geographic Distribution of Secondary Metabolite Genes in the Marine Actinomycete Salinispora arenicola. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 77:5916-5925.   10.1128/aem.00611-11   AbstractWebsite

The molecular fingerprinting technique terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used in combination with sequence-based approaches to evaluate the geographic distribution of secondary metabolite biosynthetic genes in strains of the marine actinomycete Salinispora arenicola. This study targeted ketosynthase (KS) domains from type I polyketide synthase (PKS) genes and revealed four distinct clusters, the largest of which was comprised of strains from all six global locations sampled. The remaining strains fell into three smaller clusters comprised of strains derived entirely from the Red Sea, the Sea of Cortez, or around the Island of Guam. These results reveal variation in the secondary metabolite gene collectives maintained by strains that are largely clonal at the 16S rRNA level. The location specificities of the three smaller clusters provide evidence that collections of secondary metabolite genes in subpopulations of S. arenicola are endemic to these locations. Cloned KS sequences support the maintenance of distinct sets of biosynthetic genes in the strains associated with each cluster and include four that had not previously been detected in S. arenicola. Two of these new sequences were observed only in strains derived from Guam or the Sea of Cortez. Transcriptional analysis of one of the new KS sequences in conjunction with the production of the polyketide arenicolide A supports a link between this sequence and the associated biosynthetic pathway. From the perspective of natural product discovery, these results suggest that screening populations from distant locations can enhance the discovery of new natural products and provides further support for the use of molecular fingerprinting techniques, such as T-RFLP, to rapidly identify strains that possess distinct sets of biosynthetic genes.

Engel, S, Puglisi MP, Jensen PR, Fenical W.  2006.  Antimicrobial activities of extracts from tropical Atlantic marine plants against marine pathogens and saprophytes. Marine Biology. 149:991-1002.   10.1007/s00227-006-0264-x   AbstractWebsite

Studies investigating disease resistance in marine plants have indicated that secondary metabolites may have important defensive functions against harmful marine microorganisms. The goal of this study was to systematically screen extracts from marine plants for antimicrobial effects against marine pathogens and saprophytes. Lipophilic and hydrophilic extracts from species of 49 marine algae and 3 seagrasses collected in the tropical Atlantic were screened for antimicrobial activity against five ecologically relevant marine microorganisms from three separate kingdoms. These assay microbes consisted of the pathogenic fungus Lindra thalassiae, the saprophytic fungus Dendryphiella salina, the saprophytic stramenopiles, Halophytophthora spinosa and Schizochytrium aggregatum, and the pathogenic bacterium Pseudoaltermonas bacteriolytica. Overall, 90% of all species surveyed yielded extracts that were active against one or more, and 77% yielded extracts that were active against two or more assay microorganisms. Broad-spectrum activity against three or four assay microorganisms was observed in the extracts from 48 and 27% of all species, respectively. The green algae Halimeda copiosa and Penicillus capitatus (Chlorophyta) were the only species to yield extracts active against all assay microorganisms. Among all assay microorganisms, both fungi were the most resistant to the extracts tested, with less than 21% of all extracts inhibiting the growth of either L. thalassiae or D. salina. In contrast, over half of all lipophylic extracts were active against the stramenopiles H. spinosa and S. aggregatum, and the bacterium P. bacteriolytica. Growth sensitivity to hydrophilic extracts varied considerably between individual assay microorganisms. While 48% of all hydrophilic extracts were active against H. spinosa, 27% were active against P. bacteriolytica, and only 14% were active against S. aggregatum. Overall, more lipophilic extracts inhibited microbial growth than hydrophilic extracts. The variability observed in the antimicrobial effects of individual extracts against each assay microorganism reflects the importance of choosing appropriate test microbes in assays from which ecologically relevant information is sought. Results from this survey demonstrate that antimicrobial activities are prevalent among extracts from marine algae and seagrasses, suggesting that antimicrobial chemical defenses are widespread among marine plants.

Engel, S, Jensen PR, Fenical W.  2002.  Chemical ecology of marine microbial defense. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 28:1971-1985.   10.1023/a:1020793726898   AbstractWebsite

Because marine animals and plants are continuously exposed to a large diversity of potentially harmful microorganisms, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that potential hosts might produce bioactive compounds to deter microbial attack. However, little is known about how host metabolites may defend against harmful microbes or facilitate the growth or colonization of helpful symbionts. While there is a large body of literature describing the antimicrobial activities of marine secondary metabolites, we are only now beginning to understand how these compounds function in an ecological context. For example, there is mounting evidence that nontoxic concentrations of secondary metabolites can have significant effects on microbial behavior, suggesting that certain host-microbe interactions are chemically mediated. Herein, we discuss the importance of employing ecologically relevant assays to elucidate microbiological effects and the need to develop a better understanding of host-microbe associations within an ecologically realistic context. Continued research in this field along with improved techniques will certainly provide further insight into how microbes have influenced the evolution of secondary metabolite production in marine organisms.

Eustaquio, AS, Nam SJ, Penn K, Lechner A, Wilson MC, Fenical W, Jensen PR, Moore BS.  2011.  The Discovery of Salinosporamide K from the Marine Bacterium "Salinispora pacifica" by Genome Mining Gives Insight into Pathway Evolution. Chembiochem. 12:61-64.   10.1002/cbic.201000564   Website