Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Seaweed Surprise: Marine Plant Uses Chemical Warfare To Fight Microbes

Date:
May 30, 2003
Source:
Georgia Institute Of Technology
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that seaweeds defend themselves from specific pathogens with naturally occurring antibiotics. The finding helps explain why some seaweeds, sponges and corals appear to avoid most infections by fungi and bacteria, according to a study published May 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists have discovered that seaweeds defend themselves from specific pathogens with naturally occurring antibiotics. The finding helps explain why some seaweeds, sponges and corals appear to avoid most infections by fungi and bacteria, according to a study published May 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Seaweeds live in constant contact with potentially dangerous microbes, and they have apparently evolved a chemical defense to help resist disease,” said lead author Julia Kubanek, an assistant professor of biology and chemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “These plants have a really effective way of defending themselves.”

Related Articles


Few studies have addressed disease resistance in seaweeds, and seaweed diseases are little understood, except for species that are commercially important – for example, the seaweed used for sushi. This study’s report of isolating a potent antifungal compound contained in the common seaweed species Lobophora variegata reveals an unusual chemical structure not seen before in plants.

And the study lends insight into the ecological interactions between this seaweed species and other marine organisms, Kubanek said. Also, it presents the possibility of biomedical applications for the newly discovered antifungal compound, she added.

The research – funded in part by the National Science Foundation – was conducted in collaboration with colleagues Paul Jensen and William Fenical at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, Calif., Paul Keifer of Varian Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., and researchers M. Cameron Sullards and Dwight Collins of Georgia Tech.

“Based on the antimicrobial activities we detected in a large survey of many different algal species, it is possible that antimicrobial chemical defenses are more common than previously believed and that L. variegata may be one of many species that use natural antibiotics to defend against infection,” Jensen said.

Jensen devised a bioassay to measure the antimicrobial potential of a common seaweed species, Lobophora variegata. He combined biological extracts from seaweed harvested in the Bahamas with a fungus or bacterium and monitored the sample to see if the microbes grew. Of the 51 samples tested, 46 exhibited extraordinarily potent antifungal activity that could be traced to exceedingly low concentrations of an antifungal compound in the seaweed. Suppressed growth of microbes in the samples suggests that a natural antimicrobial compound is at work, Kubanek explained.

“We have discovered a new antibiotic with a complex chemical structure that structurally resembles two groups of macrolide antibiotics (i.e., those that kill fungi) -- one found in marine sponges and the other in blue-green algae,” Kubanek said. Because of the tiny available quantities of this new compound, researchers have not applied for a patent yet.

The pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and a San Diego biotechnology company, Nereus Pharmaceuticals Inc., are partners with Scripps and are collaborating on related ongoing research. Scientists still need to determine whether the seaweed is actually the original source of the antibiotic, Kubanek added. The antimicrobial compound could be the byproduct of symbiosis between the seaweed and an as-yet unidentified microbe. If this is the case, it would be one of the rare examples of such a chemical defense for plants and animals, researchers reported.

They believe that further investigations of chemically mediated interactions between marine microbes and larger organisms are likely to reveal new molecules and mechanisms that enable marine plants and animals to persist despite intense microbial challenges, researchers wrote.

“Ecologically driven studies, such as this one, which used …. marine fungi in operationally simple assays, may be a promising strategy for uncovering novel natural products of commercial interest,” the authors reported.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute Of Technology. "Seaweed Surprise: Marine Plant Uses Chemical Warfare To Fight Microbes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030530082615.htm>.
Georgia Institute Of Technology. (2003, May 30). Seaweed Surprise: Marine Plant Uses Chemical Warfare To Fight Microbes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030530082615.htm
Georgia Institute Of Technology. "Seaweed Surprise: Marine Plant Uses Chemical Warfare To Fight Microbes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030530082615.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins