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The red alga Bonnemaisonia asparagoides regulates epiphytic bacterial abundance and community composition by chemical defence

Journal article
Authors Göran M. Nylund
Frank Persson
Mats Lindegarth
Gunnar Cervin
Malte Hermansson
Henrik Pavia
Published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology
Volume 71
Issue 1
Pages 84-93
ISSN 0168-6496
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Marine Ecology, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology
Pages 84-93
Language en
Subject categories Other Biological Topics, Marine ecology, Microbiology


Ecological research on algal-derived metabolites with antimicrobial activity has recently received increased attention and is no longer only aimed at identifying novel natural compounds with potential use in applied perspectives. Despite this progress, few studies have so far demonstrated ecologically relevant antimicrobial roles of algal metabolites, and even fewer have utilized molecular tools to investigate the effects of these metabolites on the natural community composition of bacteria. In this study, we investigated whether the red alga Bonnemaisonia asparagoides is chemically defended against bacterial colonization of its surface by extracting surface-associated secondary metabolites and testing their antibacterial effects. Furthermore, we compared the associated bacterial abundance and community composition between B. asparagoides and two coexisting macroalgae. Surface extracts tested at natural concentrations had broad-spectrum effects on the growth of ecologically relevant bacteria, and consistent with this antibacterial activity, natural populations of B. asparagoides had significantly lower densities of epibacteria compared with the coexisting algae. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis further showed that B. asparagoides harboured surface-associated bacteria with a community composition that was significantly different from those on coexisting macroalgae. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that B. asparagoides produces surface-bound antibacterial compounds with a significant impact on the abundance and composition of the associated bacterial community.

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