Goal of the project
The Indonesian coastline is characterized by an extremely high biodiversity. This project focusses on a specific bio-system, i.e. Opisthobranchia, their prey organisms, and the associated microorganisms. Based on our knowledge on systematics and ecology of these organisms, the goal is to identify new drug leads for antibiotics development.
The species in this under-investigated biological system have to interact in a complex and competitive environment. Sea slugs, forced by the absence of a protective shell, developed highly specialized defense strategies to protect their sensitive epidermis against micro and small organisms, as well as larger predators like fish and crabs. Beside the sequestration of e.g. cnidocysts, especially chemical substances fulfill this protective role. These biologically active metabolites, which can be synthesized by the sea slugs themselves, their food source, or by the associated bacterial or fungal community, will be isolated and identified within this project. Thereby, the compounds become readily available for antibacterial testing.
The focus will be on the slug-associated microorganisms. Using classical microbiological methods, axenic cultures are generated, from which by subsequent fermentation the biological active compounds can be isolated. By genome sequencing the biosynthetic potential of these microorganisms will be determined and harnessed. The biosynthetic gene clusters identified in this project will be used to produce natural products efficiently and sustainably.
In addition, metagenomic approaches will be used to make also the genetic potential of the so far uncultured bacteria accessible by heterologous expression.
Collected data on slugs and associated food organisms will document state of the art biodiversity in this hot spot region and can be used as base information for future monitoring of healthiness of marine habitats in North Sulawesi.
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Maria König, Pharmaceutical Biology, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Dr. Till Friedrich Schäberle, Pharmaceutical Biology, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Prof. Dr. Heike Wägele, Phylogenetic, Zoological Research Museum Alexander König Bonn