Send to

Choose Destination
Oecologia. 2004 Mar;139(1):131-9. Epub 2004 Jan 28.

Potent cytotoxins produced by a microbial symbiont protect host larvae from predation.

Author information

Graduate College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA.


Larvae of the sessile marine invertebrate Bugula neritina (Bryozoa) are protected by an effective chemical defense. From the larvae, we isolated three bryostatin-class macrocyclic polyketides, including the novel bryostatin 20, that deterred feeding by a common planktivorous fish that co-occurs with B. neritina. A unique bacterial symbiont of B. neritina, Endobugula sertula, was hypothesized as the putative source of the bryostatins. We show that: (1) bryostatins are concentrated in B. neritina larvae and protect them against predation by fish; (2) the adults are not defended by bryostatins; and (3) E. sertula produces bryostatins. This study represents the first example from the marine environment of a microbial symbiont producing an anti-predator defense for its host and, in this case, specifically for the host's larval stage, which is exceptionally vulnerable to predators.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for MLibrary (Deep Blue)
Loading ...
Support Center