Roseobacticides regulate the symbiotic relationship between a marine bacterium (Phaeobacter inhibens) and a marine microalga (Emiliania huxleyi). This relationship can be mutualistic, when the algal host provides food for the bacteria and the bacteria produce growth hormones and antibiotics for the algae, or parasitic, when the algae senesce and release p-coumaric acid. The released p-coumaric acid causes the bacteria to synthesize roseobacticides, which are nM-μM toxins for the algae. We examined the biosynthesis of roseobacticides and report that all roseobacticide precursors play critical roles during the mutualist phase of the symbiosis. Roseobacticides are biosynthesized from the algal growth promoter, the major food molecule provided by the algal cells, and the algal senescence signal that initiates the mutualist-to-parasite switch. Thus, molecules that are beneficial during mutualism are diverted to the synthesis of toxins during parasitism. A plausible mechanism for assembling roseobacticides from these molecules is proposed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry