Cyanobacteria are known to produce a large diversity of specialized metabolites that can cause severe (eco)toxicological effects. In the lagoon of Tahiti, the benthic cyanobacterium Leibleinia gracilis is commonly found overgrowing the proliferative macroalga Turbinaria ornata or dead branching corals. The specialized metabolome of the cyanobacterium L. gracilis was therefore investigated together with its variability on both substrates and changes in environmental parameters. For the study of the metabolome variability, replicates of L. gracilis were collected in the same location of the lagoon of Tahiti before and after a raining event, both on dead corals and on T. ornata. The variability in the metabolome was inferred from a comparative non-targeted metabolomic using high resolution mass spectrometry (MS) data and a molecular network analysis built through MS/MS analyses. Oxidized fatty acid derivatives including the unusual 11-oxopalmitelaidic acid were found as major constituents of the specialized metabolome of this species. Significant variations in the metabolome of the cyanobacteria were observed, being more important with a change in environmental factors. Erucamide was found to be the main chemical marker highly present when the cyanobacterium grows on the macroalga. This study highlights the importance of combined approaches in metabolomics and molecular networks to inspect the variability in the metabolome of cyanobacteria with applications for ecological questions.
Keywords: Leibleinia; Tahiti; comparative metabolomic; cyanobacteria; fatty acids; molecular network.