A Family of Nonribosomal Peptides Modulate Collective Behavior in Pseudovibrio Bacteria Isolated from Marine Sponges*

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2021 Jul 12;60(29):15891-15898. doi: 10.1002/anie.202017320. Epub 2021 Jun 17.


Although swarming motility and biofilms are opposed collective behaviors, both contribute to bacterial survival and host colonization. Pseudovibrio bacteria have attracted attention because they are part of the microbiome of healthy marine sponges. Two-thirds of Pseudovibrio genomes contain a member of a nonribosomal peptide synthetase-polyketide synthase gene cluster family, which is also found sporadically in Pseudomonas pathogens of insects and plants. After developing reverse genetics for Pseudovibrio, we isolated heptapeptides with an ureido linkage and related nonadepsipeptides we termed pseudovibriamides A and B, respectively. A combination of genetics and imaging mass spectrometry experiments showed heptapetides were excreted, promoting motility and reducing biofilm formation. In contrast to lipopeptides widely known to affect motility/biofilms, pseudovibriamides are not surfactants. Our results expand current knowledge on metabolites mediating bacterial collective behavior.

Keywords: Pseudovibrio; bacterial metabolites; biofilm formation; natural products; peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Multigene Family / genetics
  • Peptide Synthases / genetics
  • Peptide Synthases / metabolism
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Polyketide Synthases / genetics
  • Polyketide Synthases / metabolism
  • Porifera / genetics*
  • Porifera / metabolism*
  • Symbiosis


  • Peptides
  • Polyketide Synthases
  • Peptide Synthases
  • non-ribosomal peptide synthase