Termites and Their Symbionts
Studying the microbiome of social insects, such as termites, helps to identify new aspects of small-molecule mediated symbiotic relations. At the same time it serves platform to identify new antibacterial and antifungal agents.
The fungus-growing termite system is a prime example of multilateral symbiosis. The ancient farming symbiosis involves a termite host (Macrotermitinae), a specialized fungal mutualist (Termitomyces) maintained in an optimized fungal garden system (fungus comb), the presence of complex and highly adapted bacterial communities within the insect gut and fungus comb, and the co-evolved garden weed (Pseudoxylaria).
Natural Products from Protective Symbionts
Within this project, we aim to isolate, characterize and understand the role of natural products produced by microorganisms associated with fungus-growing termites. We used various different culturing techniques to isolate termite-associated microbes and pursued the whole genome sequence of several key isolates. Subsequent chemical analysis of our isolates in axenic and co-cultures revealed several new natural product classes showing a diverse set of biological activities.
Biosynthetic Pathway Analysis
We have sequenced the genomes of selected new microbial species to analyze their biosynthetic potential and potentially detect new natural products. The comparative analysis of the acquired genomic information likely reveals new biosynthetic enzymes and new biochemical transformations.
Video clip about our research project
Termine Fungiculture – A Hidden Treasure Trove
(2020) Gene cluster activation in a bacterial symbiont leads to halogenated angucyclic maduralactomycins and spirocyclic actinospirols. Org Lett 22(7), 2634-2638.
(2020) Xyloneside A: A new glycosylated incisterol derivative from Xylaria sp. FB. ChemBioChem [Accepted]
(2020) Absolute configuration and corrected NMR assignment of 17-hydroxycyclooctatin, a fused 5-8-5 tricyclic diterpene. J Nat Prod 83(2), 354-361.
(2020) Targeted discovery of tetrapeptides and cyclic polyketide‐peptide hybrids from a fungal antagonist of farming termites. ChemBioChem [Accepted]
(2019) Mechanistic characterization of three sesquiterpene synthases from the termite-associated fungus Termitomyces. Org Biol Chem 17(13), 3348-3355.
(2019) Reviewing the taxonomy of Podaxis: opportunities for understanding extreme fungal lifestyles. Fungal Biol 123(3), 183-187. (Review)
(2019) Tropolone natural products. Nat Prod Rep 36(8), 1137-1155.
(2019) Efomycins K and L from a termite-associated Streptomyces sp. M56 and their putative biosynthetic origin. Front Microbiol 10, 1739.
(2019) Beauvetetraones A-C, phomaligadione-derived polyketide dimers from the entomopathogenic fungus, Beauveria bassiana. Org Chem Front 6, 162-166.
(2019) Disease-free monoculture farming by fungus-growing termites. Sci Rep 9(1), 8819.
(2019) Fridamycin A, a microbial natural product, stimulates glucose uptake without inducing adipogenesis. Nutrients 11(4), 765.
(2018) Natural products from Actinobacteria associated with fungus-growing termites. Antibiotics 7(3), 83.
(2018) Precursor-directed diversification of cyclic tetrapeptidic pseudoxylallemycins. ChemBioChem 19(21), 2307-2311.
(2018) Natalenamides A-C, cyclic tripeptides from the termite-associated Actinomadura sp. RB99. Molecules 23(11), 3003.
(2018) Chemical identification of isoflavonoids from a termite-associated Streptomyces sp. RB1 and their neuroprotective effects in murine hippocampal HT22 cell line. Int J Mol Sci 19(9), 2640.
(2018) The inhibitory effects of cyclodepsipeptides from the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana on myofibroblast differentiation in A549 alveolar epithelial cells. Molecules 23(10), 2568.
(2017) Macrotermycins A-D, Glycosylated Macrolactams from a Termite-Associated Amycolatopsis sp. M39. Org Lett 19(5), 1000-1003.
(2017) Wie sich Bakterien schützen. Nachrichten aus der Chemie 65(1), 21-25. (Review)
(2017) Isolation, biosynthesis and chemical modifications of rubterolones A–F, rare tropolone alkaloids from Actinomadura sp. 5-2. Chem Eur J 23(39), 9338-9345.
(2017) Linear Peptides Are the Major Products of a Biosynthetic Pathway That Encodes for Cyclic Depsipeptides. Org Lett 19(7), 1772-1775.
(2016) Natural products from microbes associated with insects. Beilstein J Org Chem 12, 314-327.
(2016) Pseudoxylallemycins A-F, cyclic tetrapeptides with rare allenyl modifications isolated from Pseudoxylaria sp. X802: A competitor of fungus-growing termite cultivars. Org Lett 18, 3338-3341.
(2016) Termisoflavones A-C, Isoflavonoid Glycosides from Termite-Associated Streptomyces sp. RB1. J Nat Prod 79(12), 3072-3078.
(2016) A New Diketopiperazine, Cyclo(D-trans-Hyp-L-Leu) from a Kenyan Bacterium Bacillus licheniformis LB 8CT Nat Prod Commun 4(11), 461-463.
(2016) DNA Extraction from Fungi Environmental Field Samples Promega Corporation Web site
(2015) A new antibacterial octaketide and cytotoxic phenylethanoid glycosides from Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 14(25), 2834-2836.
(2014) Naphthalenones and isocoumarins from a Costa Rican fungus Xylariaceae sp. CR1546C Journal of Chemical Research 38(12), 722-725.
(2014) Natalamycin A, an ansamycin from a termite-associated Streptomyces sp Chem. Sci. 5(11), 4333-4338.
(2014) Bacterial symbionts in agricultural systems provide a strategic source for antibiotic discovery. J Antibiot (Tokyo) 67(1), 53-58.
Dr. Christine Beemelmanns
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