A polyphasic approach to the exploration of collagenolytic activity in the bacterial community associated with the marine sponge Cymbastela concentrica

Authors

  • Pui Yi Yung,

    1. Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  • Staffan Kjelleberg,

    1. Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  • Torsten Thomas

    1. Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  • Editor: Stefan Sievert

Correspondence: Torsten Thomas, Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Tel.: +61 2 938 534 67; fax: +61 2 938 517 79; e-mail: t.thomas@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Collagen is an important, extracellular structural protein for metazoans and provides a rich nutrient source for bacteria that possess collagen-degrading enzymes. In a symbiotic host system, collagen degradation could benefit the bacteria, but would be harmful for the eukaryotic host. Using a polyphasic approach, we investigated the presence of collagenolytic activity in the bacterial community hosted by the marine sponge Cymbastela concentrica. Functional screening for collagenase activity using metagenomic library clones (227 Mbp) and cultured isolates of sponge's bacterial community, as well as bioinformatic analysis of metagenomic shotgun-sequencing data (106 679 predicted genes) were used. The results show that the abundant members of the bacterial community contain very few genes encoding for collagenolytic enzymes, while some low-abundance sponge isolates possess collagenolytic activities. These findings indicate that collagen is not a preferred nutrient source for the majority of the members of the bacterial community associated with healthy C. concentrica, and that some low-abundance bacteria have collagenase activities that have the potential to harm the sponge through tissue degradation.

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