Journal article

Plant pathogenic anaerobic bacteria use aromatic polyketides to access aerobic territory

Gulimila Shabuer, Keishi Ishida, Sacha J Pidot, Martin Roth, Hans-Martin Dahse, Christian Hertweck

Science | AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE | Published : 2015


Around 25% of vegetable food is lost worldwide because of infectious plant diseases, including microbe-induced decay of harvested crops. In wet seasons and under humid storage conditions, potato tubers are readily infected and decomposed by anaerobic bacteria (Clostridium puniceum). We found that these anaerobic plant pathogens harbor a gene locus (type II polyketide synthase) to produce unusual polyketide metabolites (clostrubins) with dual functions. The clostrubins, which act as antibiotics against other microbial plant pathogens, enable the anaerobic bacteria to survive an oxygen-rich plant environment.

University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Awarded by Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Hans Knoell Institute)

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank A. Perner for MS measurements, H. Heinecke for NMR measurements, U. Knupfer and M. Cyrulies for anaerobic fermentation support, K. Martin for assistance in sample preparation, S. Linde for recording micrographs, L. D. Halder for recording confocal fluorescence microscope images, and T. Stinear and T. Seemann for assistance with DNA sequencing and bioinformatic analyses. Supported by an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship (S.J.P.) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grant SFB 1127 ChemBioSys. G.S., K. I., S.J.P., C.H., and the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Hans Knoell Institute) have filed a patent application (WO 2015/113761 A1) that relates to the structures of clostrubins A and B and their biological activities. Author contributions: G.S., K. I., and C.H. designed the research; G.S., K. I., S.J.P., and C.H. prepared the manuscript; G.S. performed anaerobic/aerobic bacterial culture experiments, potato tuber infection experiments, and antibacterial assays and constructed the Delta clrA mutant; K. I. and S.J.P. isolated clostrubins; K. I. elucidated structures; S.J.P. performed full genome sequencing and bioinformatic analyses and constructed the C. beijerinckii Delta clrA mutant; H.-M.D. performed FACS analyses; and M.R. designed and supervised anaerobic cultivation in fermenters. Supplement contains additional data.