A type III polyketide synthase specific for sporulating negativicutes is responsible for alkylpyrone biosynthesis.
Genomic analyses indicate that anaerobic bacteria represent a neglected source of natural products. Whereas a limited number of polyketides have been reported from anaerobes, products of type III polyketide synthases (PKSs) have remained unknown. We found a highly conserved biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) comprising genes putatively encoding a type III PKS and a methyltransferase in genomes of the Negativicutes, strictly anaerobic, diderm bacteria. By in vivo and in vitro expression of a type III PKS gene, dquA from the oak-associated Dendrosporobacter quercicolus in E. coli we show production of long-chain alkylpyrones. Intriguingly, this BGC is specific for sporulating Sporomusaceae but absent in related Negativicutes that do not sporulate, thus suggesting a physiological role.