Antagonistic interactions mediated by marine bacteria: the role of small molecules

J Chem Ecol. 2013 Jul;39(7):879-91. doi: 10.1007/s10886-013-0316-x. Epub 2013 Jul 14.


Marine bacteria are known to produce a wide variety of structurally diverse and biologically active secondary metabolites. Considerably less is known about the ecological functions of these compounds, in part due to methodological challenges associated with this field of research. Here, we review the antagonistic activities mediated by marine bacteria with a focus on activities linked to structurally defined secondary metabolites. Bacterial antagonism has been documented against other marine bacteria as well as eukaryotes, and includes antibiosis, the inhibition of quorum sensing, larval settlement deterrence, and defense against predation. These compounds likely play important ecological roles that ultimately affect ecosystem structure and function, however, much remains to be learned before these roles can be fully appreciated. Recent technological advances coupled with a better understanding of the diverse processes mediated by secondary metabolites provide new opportunities to expand our understanding of the chemical ecology of bacterial antagonism in the marine environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiosis*
  • Aquatic Organisms*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Secondary Metabolism*