Marine roseobacter group bacteria are numerically abundant and ecologically important players in ocean ecosystems. These bacteria are capable of modifying their membrane lipid composition in response to environmental change. Remarkably, a variety of lipids are produced in these bacteria, including phosphorus-containing glycerophospholipids and several amino acid-containing aminolipids such as ornithine lipids and glutamine lipids. Here, we present the identification and characterization of a novel sulfur-containing aminolipid (SAL) in roseobacters. Using high resolution accurate mass spectrometry, a SAL was found in the lipid extract of Ruegeria pomeroyi DSS-3 and Phaeobacter inhibens DSM 17395. Using comparative genomics, transposon mutagenesis and targeted gene knockout, we identified a gene encoding a putative lyso-lipid acyltransferase, designated salA, which is essential for the biosynthesis of this SAL. Multiple sequence analysis and structural modeling suggest that SalA is a novel member of the lysophosphatidic acid acyltransferase (LPAAT) family, the prototype of which is the PlsC acyltransferase responsible for the biosynthesis of the phospholipid phosphatidic acid. SAL appears to play a key role in biofilm formation in roseobacters. salA is widely distributed in Tara Oceans metagenomes and actively expressed in Tara Oceans metatranscriptomes. Our results raise the importance of sulfur-containing membrane aminolipids in marine bacteria.
© 2021. The Author(s).