Marine sponge bacteria are emerging as an important source for novel bioactive molecules.
Sporeformers are frequently isolated from marine sponges, but their properties and metabolites remain poorly understood. My PhD research project is focused on the characterization of the sporeforming population associated with marine sponges isolated from Irish waters and in unravelling their biotechnological and biopharmaceutical potential.
Bacillus subtilis strain MMA7, isolated from Haliclona simulans, displayed a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity against pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium sporogenes. MALDI TOF MS and MS/MS analysis of the purified bioactive and genomic sequencing of the producing strain identified a novel class 1 lantibiotic, subtilomycin. The purified peptide is highly potent towards Gram positive bacteria, and to a lesser extent against some Gram negative bacteria.
PCR screening and genomic sequencing of other B. subtilis strains, from coastal and deep sea marine sponge, suggest that the subtilomycin biosynthetic cluster is prevalent in the
marine environment. Genomic screening for other bioactive secondary metabolites encoding genetic loci, such as NRPS and PKS, is on-going. Comparative genomics and functional
studies will aid in the identification of marine specific biological signatures.
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