, Volume 119, Issue 1, pp 1-11

A brominated secondary metabolite synthesized by the cyanobacterial symbiont of a marine sponge and accumulation of the crystalline metabolite in the sponge tissue

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The dictyoceratid marine sponge Dysidea herbacea (Keller, 1889) is common in shallow waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Polybrominated biphenyl ethers such as 2-(2′,4′-dibromophenyl)-4,6-dibromophenol (1) are characteristic secondary metabolites of some specimens of this sponge and may represent as much as 12% of the dry weight. We have found 1 to be deposited as conspicuous crystals throughout the sponge tissue. The dominant prokaryotic endosymbiont in the mesohyl of the sponge is a filamentous cyanobacterium (Oscillatoria spongeliae), although a vacuole-containing, heterotrophic bacterium is also present. The cyanobacteria were separated from the sponge cells and heterotrophic bacteria by flow cytometry. Coupled gas chromatography—mass spectrometry and proton nuclear magnetic-resonance spectroscopy revealed that the major brominated Compound 1 isolated from the intact symbiotic association is found in the cyanobacteria and not in the sponge cells or heterotrophic bacteria. This suggests that the production of the compound is due to the cyanobacterium, and not to the sponge or symbiotic heterotrophic bacteria, as had been suggested earlier.

Communicated by M. G. Hadfield, Honolulu