The red alga Bonnemaisonia asparagoides regulates epiphytic bacterial abundance and community composition by chemical defence
Journal article, 2010
Ecological research on algal-derived metabolites with antimicrobial activity has recently received increased attention and is no longer only aimed at identifying novel natural compounds with potential use in applied perspectives. Despite this progress, few studies have so far demonstrated ecologically relevant antimicrobial roles of algal metabolites, and even fewer have utilized molecular tools to investigate the effects of these metabolites on the natural community composition of bacteria. In this study, we investigated whether the red alga Bonnemaisonia asparagoides is chemically defended against bacterial colonization of its surface by extracting surface-associated secondary metabolites and testing their antibacterial effects. Furthermore, we compared the associated bacterial abundance and community composition between B. asparagoides and two coexisting macroalgae. Surface extracts tested at natural concentrations had broad-spectrum effects on the growth of ecologically relevant bacteria, and consistent with this antibacterial activity, natural populations of B. asparagoides had significantly lower densities of epibacteria compared with the coexisting algae. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis further showed that B. asparagoides harboured surface-associated bacteria with a community composition that was significantly different from those on coexisting macroalgae. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that B. asparagoides produces surface-bound antibacterial compounds with a significant impact on the abundance and composition of the associated bacterial community.