Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus species dedicate a large amount of resources to the production of specialized metabolites derived from non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) or polyketide synthase (PKS). Both bacteria undergo symbiosis with nematodes, which is followed by an insect pathogenic phase. So far, the molecular basis of this tripartite relationship and the exact roles that individual metabolites and metabolic pathways play have not been well understood. To close this gap, we have significantly expanded the database for comparative genomics studies in these bacteria. Clustering the genes encoded in the individual genomes into hierarchical orthologous groups reveals a high-resolution picture of functional evolution in this clade. It identifies groups of genes—many of which are involved in secondary metabolite production—that may account for the niche specificity of these bacteria. Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus appear very similar at the DNA sequence level, which indicates their close evolutionary relationship. Yet, high-resolution mass spectrometry analyses reveal a huge chemical diversity in the two taxa. Molecular network reconstruction identified a large number of previously unidentified metabolite classes, including the xefoampeptides and tilivalline. Here, we apply genomic and metabolomic methods in a complementary manner to identify and elucidate additional classes of natural products. We also highlight the ability to rapidly and simultaneously identify potentially interesting bioactive products from NRPSs and PKSs, thereby augmenting the contribution of molecular biology techniques to the acceleration of natural product discovery.
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Research in the Bode Laboratory was supported by a European research starting grant under grant agreement no. 311477. H.B.B. acknowledges the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for funding of the Impact II qTof mass spectrometer (INST 161/810-1). N.J.T. and Y.M.S. are supported by a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. S.J.P. is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grant APP1105522. T.P.S. is supported by an Australian NHMRC Career Development Fellowship. I.E. acknowledges financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG-FOR 2251, project grant EB 285/2-1).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Electronic supplementary material
Extra results regarding structure elucidation of compounds described in the text and Supplementary Tables 1 and 8–18, as well as Supplementary Figures 1–54 and Supplementary References.
List of locus tags for all orthologous groups.
HOG gains at Node A.
HOG gains at Node B.
HOG gains at Node C.
Analysis of gene ontology pathways using the HOGs at a given node compared to the last common ancestor.
Custom database of known natural products.
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Tobias, N.J., Wolff, H., Djahanschiri, B. et al. Natural product diversity associated with the nematode symbionts Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus . Nat Microbiol 2, 1676–1685 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-017-0039-9
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