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Jensen, PR, Harvell CD, Wirtz K, Fenical W.  1996.  Antimicrobial activity of extracts of Caribbean gorgonian corals. Marine Biology. 125:411-419.   10.1007/bf00346321   AbstractWebsite

Extracts of 39 species of Caribbean gorgonians were tested for antimicrobial activity against 15 strains of marine bacteria. The bacteria consisted of three opportunistic pathogens, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Leucothrix mucor, and Aerococcus viridans, and 12 strains isolated from either healthy or decayed gorgonians. Overall, only 15% (79 out of 544) of the tests resulted in antibacterial activity with 33% (13 out of 39) of the gorgonians inhibiting only one bacterial strain and 23% (9 out of 39) showing no activity. The extracts of four Pseudopterogorgia species showed relatively high levels of activity, inhibiting 43 to 86% of the bacterial strains. The potency of the active Pseudopterogorgia species was variable, however, and three additional Pseudopterogorgia species were inactive against all bacterial strains. With the exception of one sensitive strain, Vibrio species were resistant to gorgonian metabolites. Our results indicate that organic extracts of most Caribbean gorgonians do not possess potent, broad-spectrum antibacterial activity inhibitory to the growth of opportunistic marine pathogens and bacteria associated with healthy and decayed gorgonian surfaces. These findings suggest that the inhibition of bacterial growth is not the primary ecological function of gorgonian secondary metabolites and that bacteria may not be important selective agents in the evolution of gorgonian secondary chemistry.

C
Jensen, PR, Chavarria KL, Fenical W, Moore BS, Ziemert N.  2014.  Challenges and triumphs to genomics-based natural product discovery. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology. 41:203-209.   10.1007/s10295-013-1353-8   AbstractWebsite

Genome sequencing is rapidly changing the field of natural products research by providing opportunities to assess the biosynthetic potential of strains prior to chemical analysis or biological testing. Ready access to sequence data is driving the development of new bioinformatic tools and methods to identify the products of silent or cryptic pathways. While genome mining has fast become a useful approach to natural product discovery, it has also become clear that identifying pathways of interest is much easier than finding the associated products. This has led to bottlenecks in the discovery process that must be overcome for the potential of genomics-based natural product discovery to be fully realized. In this perspective, we address some of these challenges in the context of our work with the marine actinomycete genus Salinispora, which is proving to be a useful model with which to apply genome mining as an approach to natural product discovery.

D
Tuttle, RN, Demko AM, Patin NV, Kapono CA, Donia MS, Dorrestein P, Jensen PR.  2019.  Detection of natural products and their producers in ocean sediments. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 85   10.1128/aem.02830-18   AbstractWebsite

Thousands of natural products have been identified from cultured microorganisms, yet evidence of their production in the environment has proven elusive. Technological advances in mass spectrometry, combined with public data-bases, now make it possible to address this disparity by detecting compounds directly from environmental samples. Here, we used adsorbent resins, tandem mass spectrometry, and next-generation sequencing to assess the metabolome of marine sediments and its relationship to bacterial community structure. We identified natural products previously reported from cultured bacteria, providing evidence they are produced in situ, and compounds of anthropogenic origin, suggesting this approach can be used as an indicator of environmental impact. The bacterial metabolite staurosporine was quantified and shown to reach physiologically relevant concentrations, indicating that it may influence sediment community structure. Staurosporine concentrations were correlated with the relative abundance of the staurosporine-producing bacterial genus Salinispora and production confirmed in strains cultured from the same location, providing a link between compound and candidate producer. Metagenomic analyses revealed numerous biosynthetic gene clusters related to indolocarbazole biosynthesis, providing evidence for noncanonical sources of staurosporine and a path forward to assess the relationships between natural products and the organisms that produce them. Untargeted environmental metabolomics circumvents the need for laboratory cultivation and represents a promising approach to understanding the functional roles of natural products in shaping microbial community structure in marine sediments. IMPORTANCE Natural products are readily isolated from cultured bacteria and exploited for useful purposes, including drug discovery. However, these compounds are rarely detected in the environments from which the bacteria are obtained, thus limiting our understanding of their ecological significance. Here, we used environmental metabolomics to directly assess chemical diversity in marine sediments. We identified numerous metabolites and, in one case, isolated strains of bacteria capable of producing one of the compounds detected. Coupling environmental metabolomics with community and metagenomic analyses provides opportunities to link compounds and producers and begin to assess the complex interactions mediated by specialized metabolites in marine sediments.

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Gallagher, KA, Wanger G, Henderson J, Llorente M, Hughes CC, Jensen PR.  2017.  Ecological implications of hypoxia-triggered shifts in secondary metabolism. Environmental Microbiology. 19:2182-2191.   10.1111/1462-2920.13700   AbstractWebsite

Members of the actinomycete genus Streptomyces are non-motile, filamentous bacteria that are well-known for the production of biomedically relevant secondary metabolites. While considered obligate aerobes, little is known about how these bacteria respond to periods of reduced oxygen availability in their natural habitats, which include soils and ocean sediments. Here, we provide evidence that the marine streptomycete strain CNQ-525 can reduce MnO2 via a diffusible mechanism. We investigated the effects of hypoxia on secondary metabolite production and observed a shift away from the antibiotic napyradiomycin towards 8-aminoflaviolin, an intermediate in the napyradiomycin biosynthetic pathway. We purified 8-amino-flaviolin and demonstrated that it is reversibly redox-active (midpoint potential -474.5 mV), indicating that it has the potential to function as an endogenous extracellular electron shuttle. This study provides evidence that environmentally triggered changes in secondary metabolite production may provide clues to the ecological functions of specific compounds, and that Gram-positive bacteria considered to be obligate aerobes may play previously unrecognized roles in biogeochemical cycling through mechanisms that include extracellular electron shuttling.

G
Trischman, JA, Jensen PR, Fenical W.  1998.  Guaymasol and epiguaymasol: Aromatic triols from a deep-sea Bacillus isolate. Natural Product Letters. 11:279-284.   10.1080/10575639808044960   AbstractWebsite

Two new aromatic compounds, guaymasol (1) and epiguaymasol (2), have been isolated from cultures of a Bacillus species (isolate CNA-995) taken from a deep-sea sediment core. The structures, including relative stereochemistry, were assigned on the basis of spectral analyses of the natural products and their acetonide derivatives.