Editor: Patricia Sobecky
The biosynthesis of cyanobacterial sunscreen scytonemin in intertidal microbial mat communities
Article first published online: 12 MAY 2011
© 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved
FEMS Microbiology Ecology
Volume 77, Issue 2, pages 322–332, August 2011
How to Cite
Balskus, E. P., Case, R. J. and Walsh, C. T. (2011), The biosynthesis of cyanobacterial sunscreen scytonemin in intertidal microbial mat communities. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 77: 322–332. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01113.x
- Issue published online: 11 JUL 2011
- Article first published online: 12 MAY 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 18 APR 2011 09:22AM EST
- Received 11 August 2010; revised 25 February 2011; accepted 10 April 2011., Final version published online 12 May 2011.
- microbial mat;
- secondary metabolite biosynthesis
We have examined the biosynthesis and accumulation of cyanobacterial sunscreening pigment scytonemin within intertidal microbial mat communities using a combination of chemical, molecular, and phylogenetic approaches. Both laminated (layered) and nonlaminated mats contained scytonemin, with morphologically distinct mats having different cyanobacterial community compositions. Within laminated microbial mats, regions with and without scytonemin had different dominant oxygenic phototrophs, with scytonemin-producing areas consisting primarily of Lyngbya aestuarii and scytonemin-deficient areas dominated by a eukaryotic alga. The nonlaminated mat was populated by a diverse group of cyanobacteria and did not contain algae. The amplification and phylogenetic assignment of scytonemin biosynthetic gene scyC from laminated mat samples confirmed that the dominant cyanobacterium in these areas, L. aestuarii, is likely responsible for sunscreen production. This study is the first to utilize an understanding of the molecular basis of scytonemin assembly to explore its synthesis and function within natural microbial communities.