Actinomycetes are known to be the most prolific producers of biologically active metabolites. Here, we investigated the host species-specificity and the related secondary metabolites of actinomycetes that are associated with three different Australian ascidians, namely Symplegma rubra
, Aplidium solidum
, and Polyclinum vasculosum
. Results indicated that while isolates from the genera Streptomyces
were highly diverse in the ascidian samples, only two culturable actinomycete Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) overlapped between all of the ascidians, pointing to some degree of host species-specificity of the isolates and selective acquisition of microbial associates by the host from the surrounding environment. LC-MS/MS profiling of extracts obtained from the ascidians and their actinomycete associates revealed many overlapping ions between hosts and actinomycetes, indicating that these compounds were likely to be synthesised by the microbial associates. Laboratory cultures of the actinomycetes displayed even more diverse metabolomes than those of their ascidian hosts; thus, making ascidian-associated actinomycetes an excellent target for natural product drug discovery and biotechnology.
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