Thiocoraline is a thiodepsipeptide antitumor compound produced by two actinomycetes Micromonospora sp. ACM2-092 and Micromonospora sp. ML1, isolated from two marine invertebrates (a soft coral and a mollusc) found of the Indian Ocean coast of Mozambique. By using oligoprimers derived from nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) consensus sequences, six PCR fragments containing putative NRPS adenylation domains were amplified from the chromosome of Micromonospora sp. ML1. Insertional inactivation of each adenylation domain showed that two of them generated nonproducing mutants, thereby indicating that these domains were involved in thiocoraline biosynthesis. Sequencing of a 64.6 kbp DNA region revealed the presence of 36 complete open reading frames (ORFs) and two incomplete ones. Heterologous expression of a region of about 53 kbp, containing 26 of the ORFs, in Streptomyces albus and S. lividans led to the production of thiocoraline in these streptomycetes. Surprisingly, the identified gene cluster contains more NRPS modules than expected on the basis of the number of amino acids of thiocoraline. TioR and TioS would most probably constitute the NRPS involved in the biosynthesis of the thiocoraline backbone, according to the colinearity of the respective modules. It is proposed that two other NRPSs, TioY and TioZ, could be responsible for the biosynthesis of a small peptide molecule which could be involved in regulation of the biosynthesis of thicoraline in Micromonospora sp. ML1. In addition, a pathway is proposed for the biosynthesis of the unusual starter unit, 3-hydroxy-quinaldic acid.