Streptomyces polyketides mediate bacteria-fungi interactions across soil environments.
Although the interaction between prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms is crucial for the functioning of ecosystems, information about the processes driving microbial interactions within communities remains scarce. Here we show that arginine-derived polyketides (arginoketides) produced by Streptomyces species mediate cross-kingdom microbial interactions with fungi of the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium, and trigger the production of natural products. Arginoketides can be cyclic or linear, and a prominent example is azalomycin F produced by Streptomyces iranensis, which induces the cryptic orsellinic acid gene cluster in Aspergillus nidulans. Bacteria that synthesize arginoketides and fungi that decode and respond to this signal were co-isolated from the same soil sample. Genome analyses and a literature search indicate that arginoketide producers are found worldwide. Because, in addition to their direct impact, arginoketides induce a secondary wave of fungal natural products, they probably contribute to the wider structure and functioning of entire soil microbial communities.