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Cover Picture: Linking Chemical and Microbial Diversity in Marine Sponges: Possible Role for Poribacteria as Producers of Methyl-Branched Fatty Acids (ChemBioChem 18/2010)
The cover picture shows the marine sponge Cacospongia mycofijiensis and some of its microbial and lipid constituents. Sponges are one of the richest sources of natural products, and many of these animals harbor massive consortia of diverse symbiotic bacteria. These symbionts are increasingly being recognized as the true source of many sponge-derived primary and secondary metabolites. In addition to cytotoxic polyketides, such as fijianolides (laulimalides), latrunculin and mycothiazol, C. mycofijiensis contains numerous highly characteristic mid-chain-branched fatty acids in its lipids. These fatty acids are generally detected in high-microbial-abundance sponges, but have not been found in sponges harboring few bacteria. Metagenomic deep sequencing of biosynthetic genes, comparative lipid analysis, and 16S rRNA studies of symbionts suggest that symbionts belonging to the sponge-specific candidate phylum “Poribacteria” might synthesize these lipids by employing unusual polyketide synthase-like enzymes. For more information see the paper by J. Piel et al. on p. 2572 ff. Illustration: Jörn Piel, Ute Hentschel, and Phillip Crews.