31 January 2024

New study unveils link between microbial community succession and secondary metabolites in marine biofilm development

Research collaboration

Exploring the interplay between microbial community composition and secondary metabolism in marine biofilms, this new research uncovers previously unknown connections between community dynamics and the potential for secondary metabolite production. Secondary metabolites, organic compounds produced by microorganisms, play a crucial role in mediating interactions within complex microbial communities.

Experimental setup of microbial dynamics in marine biofilm
Experimental setup of microbial dynamics in marine biofilm

A cross centre collaboration

One of the authors Associate Professor Morten Limborg says: “In a stride towards understanding the intricate dynamics of marine biofilm we need to understand microbial communities and their metabolites - in this paper, we share valuable insights from a fruitful cross centre of excellence collaboration between Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics at University of Copenhagen and CeMiSt at Technical University of Denmark both generously funded by the Danish National Research Foundation.”

Utilising advanced techniques the team of researchers tracked the taxons, biosynthetic gene clusters, and metabolome dynamics of microorganisms during marine biofilm succession for 113 days. The study identified two distinct phases during the community succession, with a marked shift occurring around day 29. During this transition, alkaloid secondary metabolites, pseudanes, were detected, highlighting a pivotal moment in the biofilm development.

New marine biofilm applications

Another author postdoc Jacob Agerbo Rasmussen emphasises, "Conclusively, this study provides evidence that the dynamics of marine biofilm development are intricately linked to the microbial community's ability to produce secondary metabolites. Understanding these relationships opens up new avenues for harnessing secondary metabolites and the bacteria within the marine biofilms for various applications, from environmental conservation to biotechnological advancements."

The publication paves the way for further research into the complex and dynamic interplay between microbial communities and secondary metabolism in marine environments. Read the preprint in ISME communications here.


Postdoc Jacob Agerbo Rasmussen