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Iron competition triggers antibiotic biosynthesis in Streptomyces coelicolor during coculture with Myxococcus xanthus


Microbial coculture to mimic the ecological habitat has been suggested as an approach to elucidate the effect of microbial interaction on secondary metabolite biosynthesis of Streptomyces. However, because of chemical complexity during coculture, underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. Here, we found that iron competition triggered antibiotic biosynthesis in Streptomyces coelicolor during coculture with Myxococcus xanthus. During coculture, M. xanthus enhanced the production of a siderophore, myxochelin, leading M. xanthus to dominate iron scavenging and S. coelicolor to experience iron-restricted conditions. This chemical competition, but not physical contact, activated the actinorhodin biosynthetic gene cluster and the branched-chain amino acid degradation pathway which imply the potential to produce precursors, along with activation of a novel actinorhodin export system. Furthermore, we found that iron restriction increased the expression of 21 secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters (smBGCs) in other Streptomyces species. These findings suggested that the availability for key ions stimulates specific smBGCs, which had the potential to enhance secondary metabolite biosynthesis in Streptomyces.

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