Fungus-growing ants engage in complex symbiotic relationships with their fungal crop, specialized fungal pathogens, and bacteria that provide chemical defenses. In an effort to understand the evolutionary origins of this multilateral system, we investigated bacteria isolated from fungi. One bacterial strain (Streptomyces sp. CLI2509) from the bracket fungus Hymenochaete rubiginosa, produced an unusual peptide, tryptorubin A, which contains heteroaromatic links between side chains that give it a rigid polycyclic globular structure. The three-dimensional structure was determined by NMR and MS, including a (13)C-(13)C COSY of isotopically enriched material, degradation, derivatives, and computer modeling. Whole genome sequencing identified a likely pair of biosynthetic genes responsible for tryptorubin A's linear hexapeptide backbone. The genome also revealed the close relationship between CLI2509 and Streptomyces sp. SPB78, which was previously implicated in an insect-bacterium symbiosis.
Journal: Journal of the American chemical society