Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 99, Issue 14, pp 5939–5950 | Cite as

Functional gene-based discovery of phenazines from the actinobacteria associated with marine sponges in the South China Sea

  • Valliappan Karuppiah
  • Yingxin Li
  • Wei Sun
  • Guofang Feng
  • Zhiyong LiEmail author
Applied genetics and molecular biotechnology


Phenazines represent a large group of nitrogen-containing heterocyclic compounds produced by the diverse group of bacteria including actinobacteria. In this study, a total of 197 actinobacterial strains were isolated from seven different marine sponge species in the South China Sea using five different culture media. Eighty-seven morphologically different actinobacterial strains were selected and grouped into 13 genera, including Actinoalloteichus, Kocuria, Micrococcus, Micromonospora, Mycobacterium, Nocardiopsis, Prauserella, Rhodococcus, Saccharopolyspora, Salinispora, Serinicoccus, and Streptomyces by the phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene. Based on the screening of phzE genes, ten strains, including five Streptomyces, two Nocardiopsis, one Salinispora, one Micrococcus, and one Serinicoccus were found to be potential for phenazine production. The level of phzE gene expression was highly expressed in Nocardiopsis sp. 13-33-15, 13-12-13, and Serinicoccus sp. 13-12-4 on the fifth day of fermentation. Finally, 1,6-dihydroxy phenazine (1) from Nocardiopsis sp. 13-33-15 and 13-12-13, and 1,6-dimethoxy phenazine (2) from Nocardiopsis sp. 13-33-15 were isolated and identified successfully based on ESI-MS and NMR analysis. The compounds 1 and 2 showed antibacterial activity against Bacillus mycoides SJ14, Staphylococcus aureus SJ51, Escherichia coli SJ42, and Micrococcus luteus SJ47. This study suggests that the integrated approach of gene screening and chemical analysis is an effective strategy to find the target compounds and lays the basis for the production of phenazine from the sponge-associated actinobacteria.


Actinobacteria Sponges Diversity Phenazine 



This study was financially supported by the High-Tech Research and Development Program of China (2013AA092901). Authors thank Dr. M. Gopi, Conservation of Coastal and Marine Resources Division, National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, Anna University Campus, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, for identifying three sponges based on sponge morphology.

Supplementary material

253_2015_6547_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (415 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 414 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valliappan Karuppiah
    • 1
  • Yingxin Li
    • 1
  • Wei Sun
    • 1
  • Guofang Feng
    • 1
  • Zhiyong Li
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Marine Biotechnology Laboratory, State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism and School of Life Sciences and BiotechnologyShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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