Bacterial diversity associated with the Caribbean tunicate Ecteinascidia turbinata
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The Caribbean tunicate, Ecteinascidia turbinata produces the anti-cancer agent ET-743 that could well be a metabolite of an associated bacterial strain. This current study aims at the analysis of bacteria that are persistently and specifically associated with this invertebrate. Utilizing techniques such as denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of bacteria from E. turbinata collected from different locations in the Caribbean Sea, we report here the identification of five possible persistently associated bacteria. Of these, only one organism, Candidatus Endoecteinascidia frumentensis, was found specifically associated to E. turbinata from the Caribbean and has also been found to be associated with E. turbinata from the Mediterranean. These experiments suggest that assessment of bacterial diversity associated with invertebrates from different geographical sites might be an effective way of identifying persistently and specifically associated bacteria.
KeywordsPersistently associated bacteria Ecteinascidia turbinata Microbial diversity Tunicates Unculturable bacteria
This study has been supported, in part by a seed money grant from the Sea Grant College program of the University of Puerto Rico (to AEP and WR) and the N.I.H MBRS-SCORE program (SO6-GM 08103 to NSG).
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