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Who Produces Ianthelline? The Arctic Sponge Stryphnus fortis or its Sponge Epibiont Hexadella dedritifera: a Probable Case of Sponge-Sponge Contamination


The bromotyrosine derivative ianthelline was isolated recently from the Atlantic boreo-arctic deep-sea sponge Stryphnus fortis, and shown to have clear antitumor and antifouling effects. However, chemosystematics, field observations, and targeted metabolic analyses (using UPLC-MS) suggest that ianthelline is not produced by S. fortis but by Hexadella dedritifera, a sponge that commonly grows on S. fortis. This case highlights the importance of combining taxonomic and ecological knowledge to the field of sponge natural products research.

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I am grateful to Prof. Ulf Göransson (Uppsala University, Div. of Pharmacognosy) for providing the secondary metabolites extraction protocol and for commenting on an earlier version of this manuscript. I warmly thank Dr. Mikael Thollesson (Uppsala University, Div. of Systematic Biology) for collecting and sharing his Bahamian Aplysinidae samples for this study. Johan Svenson and Kine Østnes Hanssen (UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø) are acknowledged for providing an ianthelline extract. Alfred Svan and Erik Jacobsson (both at Uppsala University, Dept. of Medicinal Chemistry) are thanked for their help with the LC-MS2 experiments. I also thank Alexander Plotkin (University of Bergen, Norway) for collecting S. fortis and S. normani in Svalbard (AB321 Marine Benthic Fauna of Svalbard on board the RV Helmer Hanssen), and Dr. Christine Morrow (Queen’s University, Belfast) for collecting S. fortis during the CE13008 campaign (June 2013, RV Celtic Explorer using the ROV Holland I, chief scientist: Louise Allcock). I acknowledge the staff involved in the NEREIDA Project for providing the Flemish Cap specimens obtained during the NEREIDA surveys carried out on board the Spanish RV Miguel Oliver. Finally, I am grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their helpful comments and suggestions, which greatly improved this study. This study was funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) under grant agreement No. 311848 (Bluegenics KBBE-2012-6).

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Correspondence to Paco Cárdenas.

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LC-MS2 experiments to compare m/z, retention time (Rt) and fragment ions of an authentic ianthelline from Hanssen et al. (2012) and a putative ianthelline extracted from Stelletta normani (ZMBN 89728). (DOCX 124 kb)

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Cárdenas, P. Who Produces Ianthelline? The Arctic Sponge Stryphnus fortis or its Sponge Epibiont Hexadella dedritifera: a Probable Case of Sponge-Sponge Contamination. J Chem Ecol 42, 339–347 (2016).

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  • Porifera
  • Bromotyrosine
  • Ianthelline
  • Verongiida
  • Tetractinellida
  • Aiolochroia
  • Chemosystematics