, Volume 52, Issue 7, pp 716–722

Two classes of metabolites fromTheonella swinhoei are localized in distinct populations of bacterial symbionts


  • C. A. Bewley
    • Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California, San Diego
  • N. D. Holland
    • Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California, San Diego
  • D. J. Faulkner
    • Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California, San Diego
Research Articles

DOI: 10.1007/BF01925581

Cite this article as:
Bewley, C.A., Holland, N.D. & Faulkner, D.J. Experientia (1996) 52: 716. doi:10.1007/BF01925581


The marine spongeTheonella swinhoei (lithistid Family Theonellidae, Order Astrophorida) has yielded many important, bioactive natural products, most of which share structural features with bacterial natural products. The presence of microbial symbionts inT. swinhoei has been reported, and it was originally suggested that the cytotoxic macrolide swinholide A and many of the bioactive cyclic peptides fromT. swinhoei were all produced by symbiotic cyanobacteria. By transmission electron microscopy, we found four distinct cell populations to be consistently present inT. swinhoei: eukaryotic sponge cells, unicellular heterotrophic bacteria, unicellular cyanobacteria and filamentous heterotrophic bacteria. Purification and chemical analyses of each cell type showed the macrolide swinholide A to be limited to the mixed population of unicellular heterotrophic bacteria, and an anti-fungal cyclic peptide occurred only in the filamentous heterotrophic bacteria. Contrary to prior speculation, no major metabolites were located in the cyanobacteria or sponge cells.

Key words

Aphanocapsa feldmanniBeggiatoacyanobacterialithistid spongeTheonella swinhoeisecondary metabolitesswinholide Asymbiosis
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© Birkhäuser Verlag 1996