Many medications that are used to treat cancer or infectious diseases, for example, contain substances derived from bacteria and other microorganisms. Marine sponges play an important role in the search for new drugs from the natural environment. This is because they contain exceptionally diverse and unusual natural substances.
The marine sponge Theonella swinhoei resembles a smooth stone with openings on top. (Photo: Junichi Tanaka, University of the Ryukyus, Japan)
Image amended from: Hentschel et al (2012), Nature Reviews Microbiology
Now an international venture coordinated by Professor Jörn Piel from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) has broken new ground in this area. The scientists have discovered the origin of the many interesting substances found in the sponge Theonella swinhoei: they are produced by the bacteria genus Entotheonella, which lives in the sponge as a kind of lodger.
Tectomicrobia as a new bacteria group
Since the newly discovered bacterium is so unusual, the researchers were unable to assign it to a known group in the conventional system. They are therefore proposing a new strain (phylum), which they are calling Tectomicrobia.The name Tectomicrobia is derived from the Latin word “tegere”, which means “to hide, to protect”. This term was chosen because the bacteria cannot be cultivated in the laboratory yet and are therefore “well hidden” from science. Furthermore, they presumably protect their host sponges, with the many substances they contain, from fish and other predators.
Habitat in sponges and sea water
Würzburg’s Professor Ute Hentschel-Humeida, expert in the microbiology of marine sponges, and her colleagues Dr. Susanne Schmitt and Christine Gernert were involved in describing the new bacteria. The Würzburg team also conducted studies into the distribution of the new strain. “Tectobacteria can be found in many other sponges, and also in sea water,” says Hentschel-Humeida, which points to their ecological relevance.
Making the chemical arsenal available
As their next step, the research teams are keen to discover what functions tectobacteria perform in symbiosis with their host sponge as well as in the coral reef ecosystem. They will also strive to make the bacteria’s chemical arsenal available for research and for possible biotechnological applications.
“An environmental bacterial taxon with a large and distinct metabolic repertoire”, Micheal C. Wilson, Tetsushi Mori, Christian Rückert, Agustinus R. Uria, Maximilian J. Helf, Kentaro Takada, Christine Gernert, Ursula A. E. Steffens, Nina Heycke, Susanne Schmitt, Christian Rinke, Eric J. N. Helfrich, Alexander O. Brachmann, Cristian Gurgui, Toshiyuki Wakimoto, Matthias Kracht, Max Crüsemann, Ute Hentschel, Ikuro Abe, Shigeki Matsunaga, Jörn Kalinowski, Haruko Takeyama & Jörn Piel, Nature, January 29, 2014, DOI: 10.1038/nature12959
Prof. Dr. Jörn Piel, Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, T +41 44 633 07 55; e-mail: email@example.com
Prof. Dr. Ute Hentschel-Humeida, Department of Botany II, Julius-von-Sachs-Institute for Biosciences, T +49 (0)931 31-82581, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Emmerich | Uni Würzburg
A cell senses its own curves: New research from the MBL Whitman Center
29.04.2016 | Marine Biological Laboratory
A New Discovery in the Fight against Cancer: Tumor Cells Switch to a Different Mode
29.04.2016 | Universität Basel
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This work is about avoiding costly and unstable fullerenes.
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences...
As one of the leading R&D partners in the development of surface technologies and organic electronics, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP will be exhibiting its recent achievements in vacuum coating of ultra-thin glass at SVC TechCon 2016 (Booth 846), taking place in Indianapolis / USA from May 9 – 13.
Fraunhofer FEP is an experienced partner for technological developments, known for testing the limits of new materials and for optimization of those materials...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
29.04.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
29.04.2016 | Health and Medicine
29.04.2016 | Life Sciences