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Microb Ecol. 2001 Feb;41(2):90-96.

Competition-Mediated Antibiotic Induction in the Marine Bacterium Streptomyces tenjimariensis.

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Department of Pharmacognosy and National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677-1848, USA.


Microbial competition for limiting natural resources within a community is thought to be the selective force that promotes biosynthesis of antimicrobial compounds. The marine bacterium Streptomyces tenjimariensis produces the antibiotics istamycin A and B under select laboratory culture conditions; presumably these compounds serve an ecological role under natural conditions. Here we report results of a novel marine microbial competition experiment that examined the impact of co-culture of marine bacteria on istamycin production by S. tenjimariensis. Twelve of the 53 bacterial species tested (i.e., 22.6%) induced Istamycin production; this antibiotic also inhibited growth of the competitor colonies. These results suggest that marine bacterial metabolites serve an ecological role in countering competitive species.


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